Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Father's take on Filbert

My dad is a creative character and obviously could not resist adding his voice to Filbert.

I do have to send the greatest appreciate to my parents, who sent me some Christmas money early to buy long-underwear and Filbert's underhat too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

These Canadians and their Curling

Canadians apparently like curling. I mean, they like it a lot.

So much so that The Weakerthans wrote a song about curling and filmed a "webisode" about it.

I am actually really excited about seeing some curling, though I will likely stay on the spectators side of things -- with my well established ability to fall on pavement under normal cicumstances, I have pretty much been barred from purposely walking on ice for years now.

Here is the video for Tournament of Hearts:

I would love, love, love to actually go to the Fort Rogue Curling Club, which I think is where they filmed the video. Will see if I get the courage to rent a car and drive it through the wintery city... or convince some poor soul to drive me there.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Filbert and his Underhat

People wear long underwear in cold weather, right?  Well my dear sweet fleece hat Flibert (right) now has his very own "underhat" (left).  Together they are pretty darn warm.  

I have discovered the joy of something called "Polar Fleece. at REI.  Thank god for the people of REI who have helped me over the past week.  One of them explained all the contraptions attached to my gloves.  They have "idiot" strings attached and what I thought was a "money pocket" is actually a place for a hand warmer (Doh).

And apparently I have been wearing some pretty crappy socks.  I spent about $40 on Smartwool socks and they are AMAZING.  I don't want to take them off.  It's like I have never worn socks before.

I also bought some of this:

... and waterproofed my boots.  Though I admit, I forgot the line in the directions that said "use in a well ventilated area."  The dogs and I spent the rest of the evening a little under the influence of the vapors.

Long underwear  has been ordered (thanks to Black Friday sales)

I have been kinda feeling guilty that most of this blog so far has been dedicated to "Winterizing Andy" for this trip.  Thanks Raymond for also calling me out on this and for graciously telling me "I told you so!"  He is in fact the only person I know who has been to Winnipeg and survived! ;)

Honestly, when I heard about these shows I just booked the ticket.  I now realize this truly is an expedition like no other I have been on and the preparation has been an entertaining education.  I do promise to offer photos and writings of my experience there once I arrive.  There is just a long build up.  But only 17 days to go!

I am gonna have to find a way to put all this winterwear to use after I get back from Canada.  Winter camping trip anyone?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bottle Tree Concert - Birmingham

This is a concert filmed at the Bottle Tree in Birmingham, Alabama. If you watch closely you can see my bright red mop near the front of the stage between John and Stephen.

I never knew this video existed until now.  Nice discovery.  There are some cool little interviews throughout if you keep watching.

We Have Signal: The Weakerthans from We Have Signal on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holy What?

It is 0 degrees in Winnipeg right now.  ZERO.  Fahrenheit.

This makes me dizzy.

The low today is 6 degrees, how can it be 0?  And there are 3 more weeks before I leave.  Could get colder than zero?

Hello hotel room and a bottle of wine.

There is nothing else I can say. 

In the Beginning: My Love Affair with The Weakerthans

My love affair with the Weakerthans started when my dear friend John Carter sent me some mixed CDs of Canadian music.  John Carter is from Nova Scotia but lives in Ottawa.  We have been trading music for about a decade and the boy has made me quite a Canadianphile.

On one of those CDs were 2 Weakerthans songs and I immediately was hooked.  I went out and bought everything they had and played them for everyone who would listen.  

I had some catching up to do.  I had never seen them live and they just did not seem to tour (at least not in the Southern US) for several years.  I thought I had missed the boat and thought I may never get a chance to see them live.

But then after their album "Reunion Tour" came out they started booking US dates again.  This time I was not going to miss it.  So I took time off of work and drove 11 hours up to Cleveland to see them play at the Grogg Shop.  The next day I drove to Pittsburg where I met my former guitarist from The Yum Yum Tree.  He flew in from Atlanta and we saw them at Mr. Smalls Theater.  At their suggestion (from the stage) we even checked out the Permanti Bros crazy sandwiches before we left. 

Mr. Smalls Theather - Pitts

I later traveled to see them In Austin, Texas at (SxSW) and Birmingham, AL before they finally came to my backyard Athens, GA.

So yes, Winnipeg is the furthest I have gone to see any band, but it seems like the logical next step.  Right?  I’ve seen them in 5 states, I might as well add another Country to the list.  I just wish that I was a little more acclimated to -2 weather.... or 15 degree weather even.  Regardless of the chance of frostbite, I am so excited to see them in their home town, playing their entire catalog!  What a perfect way to end the year.

Here I come Winnipeg!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is it really that cold? No, it can't be. (plus video)

The High today in Winnipeg is 24 Degrees.

The low is SEVEN!!!

Is it really that cold in Winnipeg?

They say in February it gets to -40.  Is that sustainable for human life?

I bought some of these yesterday:

Do you these will be enough?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Virtue Verses Virtute

What kind of guy writes a song from the perspective of his cat?  It's brilliant and he made thousands of people live a cat named Virtute... (or Virtue depending on where you get your information).

I had listened to this song a dozen times before my BFF Molly pointed out that the song was written from the perspective of a cat.

Here is a video of them playing it a the Grogg Shop in Cleveland in 2007. I loved that everyone was shorter than me for once. Thanks for that Cleveland!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hymn of the Medical Oddity

The Weakerthans wrote a beautiful song about a Winnipeg man named David Reimer who sadly became the victim of a medical experiment in gender identity. 

Twin brothers David and Brian Reimer were born in Winnipeg in the 60’s, but during his circumcision, David’s penis was destroyed.  A leading doctor in gender studies at the time suggested they remove his testicles and raise David as Brenda.

The doctor only published evidence that supported his theory.

The "experiment" in nature vs. nurture became a disaster!

David never felt like a girl and as a teen when into a crisis, at which point his parents disclosed his true identity.  David began living as a boy from then but both he and his brother never quite recovered.

Brian died of an overdose of antidepressants at 36.

David committed suicide soon after at 38.

What a horrible moment in medical history.

What a beautiful song in his honor.

Oh, all the words I should not know those doctors wrote on me
Swell up and from their syllable won't let me get to sleep.
The sun will start later, clock out early
And I'll drive around and wait for it.
Follow familiar roads emptied of every memory
Under a sheet of silence and unmarked snow.

Then idle in some parking lot, smoke half a smoke and ask
St. Boniface and St. Vital preserve me from my past
Repair our potholes, prevent plant closures
and if they remember me at all, make them remember me
as more than a queer experiment, more than a diagram in their quarterly
Make them remember me

More on David's story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GhbVFjIaN0

Monday, November 15, 2010

Score! A Warm & Luxurious Place to Stay

I am so excited.  I just scored the "Andy G Discount" at the new hotel in downtown Winnipeg for cheap!   How?  Well, I can't tell you that! Here I come, comfy king sized bed!

The hotel is kinda close to where the Skywalk starts... the Skywalk is basically a set of "hamster tubes" throughout the downtown area where you can walk down Portage Ave. and other places without exposing yourself to the elements.  Of course, I want to walk outside, so I can see more of the city but at least I have the option of the hamster tubes.

Winnipeg Walkway/Skywalk

What to Wear: Winter Accouterments

I need your help!

I did not have a winter coat until 1998.  I am very ill prepared for a real winter.

I have 2 sweaters, a bunch of dresses, tights and a couple of pairs of slacks.  I have no warm socks.  I don’t and won’t own a parka.  Sorry, Molly.

I spent most of my life in Southern Texas where time stops if it gets below 30.  When I moved to Georgia, I discovered tights and a winter coat but I have to admit that I have never even been in weather that is lower than maybe 20 degrees F.

I also wear a lot of dresses.  Actually most of my wardrobe consists of dresses. And these are not winter dresses, they are v-neck cotton dresses.  Of course for the Atlanta winters, I just add tights and coat but I just cannot imagine that this is going to fly in Winnipeg… in December.

I literally do not know HOW to dress for a real winter. 
Oh yes, and I have very little money too.

I went to my storage space and dug through boxes until I found my old Doc Marten boots.  These are not the warmest boots, but they are the only boots I have.  I think I have only worn them a total of 3 times, so they also need some breaking in.

I also just bought this new cuddly fleece hat when I was in New Orleans.  My friends named him Flibert.  I do hope he keeps me warm.

So, what am I supposed to wear in Winnipeg – without making myself look like that kid from A Christmas Story, that is?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fahrenheit Vs. Centigrade

The temperature in Winnipeg right now is 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

The average temperature in Winnipeg in December is 14 to -2 degrees F.

My phone is set to tell me the temperature in Winnipeg whenever I hit a button. I compare this to the weather in Atlanta to try to get an idea of what I am in for. When I see my Canadian friend at work I look to my phone to give an update. I say “Hey there, It’s only 38 degrees in Winnipeg!” What I mean is that 38 degrees is tolerable for me. I have been in 38-degree weather. In fact, I have even been in 20-degree weather a time or two!

His reply is always:  “Ah, one month’s time will be just long enough for it to cool down for you.”

He’s also told me that apparently I have to start deciphering Fahrenheit from Centigrade for my trip, but what I figure is after I get there pretty much anything below 20 degrees F is going to be too damn cold to comprehend, so what does it matter!~

And on that note: John K. Samson explains Winnipeg in February at a writers in the round:

John K. Samson - One Great City from Peadanjo on Vimeo.

The Song That Started it All

If anyone asks me why I like the Weakerthans so much I play them the song "Left and Leaving." And then I shut up and let them listen. So, I suggest you stop reading now. Listen. And then read on. There's no need to watch the video of wolves. It's kinda weird. Just listen.

The only way I can explain it is that this song makes me love where I am from. See, I think that is interesting because I know the song was likely written about Winnipeg, but it makes me love Atlanta. There is something about this song that makes me understand the "here and now" and makes me feel like I belong here.

I pretty much think that every line in this song is brilliant, but one of my favorites is:
"Back with the streets I know, will never take me anywhere but here"

I played this song as I drove into Georgia after living in San Francisco for a year and I actually named my cross country travel blog home "Left and Leaving".

I read that John Waters was part of an art symposium in Winnipeg called "My City is Still Breathing," which of course if the first line in this song. So, I suspect someone else agrees with me in the importance of this song.

The Royal Albert Arms

So the first concert the Weakerthans will play is a tiny club called the "Royal Albert Arms" which apparently is like the CBGB's of Winnipeg. There is even a neat documentary about the club you can see here. It looks good and I really wanna see it!

Call To Arms: The Story of the Royal Albert - Trailer from Randy Frykas on Vimeo.

This show will feature songs from their first album FALLOW. I adore this album of course, but I also admit it is my least favorite of their 4 albums. Does that even make sense?

But what I wonder is how the people of Winnipeg feel about this first album. Fallow must have seemed like a big change, as John K Samson had just left a popular punk band called Propagandhi. This was a definite departure in style. I always find it interesting what a band's local community thinks about these things. Is Fallow their favorite album because it is their "first"? Or was there reluctancy because John left a band that seemed to be doing well at the time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Southern Girl Wanders North

It’s odd. I can not lie. Why would a Southern (American) girl give up her annual trip to Texas to see her family to bear the frigid cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba for a week?

I am ill prepared. I am poor. I know no one there. I am a big city girl and the whole of Winnipeg has all of 600,000 people. They don’t even make travel books about Winnipeg, for god’s sake!

Oh yes, and then there is the COLD!

But still I want to go. In fact, I am so excited that I am counting the days:  It's exactly one month until my arrival.

So why?

Well, I am enamoured by the words of an amazing poet from Winnipeg, who makes me see things differently. I am in love with the music that blankets these words, so perfectly.

The poet is John K. Samson.

The band is the Weakerthans.

And in December of 2010, they will perform their entire catalog of music and words over 4 nights in their hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Um, that’s in Canada, by the way.

And I will be there.

I have listened to the Weakerthans romanticize this city they come from for so many years, that I simply have to see for myself. I wonder what St. Boniface is like. I want to look for the ghosts of Albert Street. And I am sure “Tournament of Hearts” will play in my mind when I see my first Curling match (if that’s even what you call it).

So, here I will write about my preparation (look, I didn’t even own a winter coat until I was 24, so I need to prepare), and about my journey. Perhaps, someone will read this and offer their wisdom on warm winter apparel or maybe I will even find a Winnipeg historian who will take me under their wing and tell me some stories over a pint in a bar the “locals” frequent.

At the very least my friends and family will be able to check here to make sure I have not died of frostbite during my journey.