Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Manitoba Links Weekly: Funtown is Beautiful (ManLinkWeek 13)

We've got a lot of ground to cover this week -- and, when you see the third link, you'll find I mean that quite literally -- so let's roll out the ol' ManLinkWeek.

[Winnipeg O' My Heart: The Bloom Is Off The Rose]
The post you see above has been the big ripple in the local blogosphere pond as late, and rightfully so; it's a very eloquent examination of the city's zigzaggery between charming and awful, and the response it seems to have drawn from longtime Winnipeggers is a cheerful hey-now-you-get-it welcome that would probably seem bizarre in other places.

Sooner or later, Winnipeg catches up to you; the crime and cold and poverty live up to their reputations, your closest friends move away to literally anywhere else they can move, and the city's underlying current of constant casual racism -- like some low-level Yog-Sothothery, a gradual but everpresent corrosive force lying not particularly well hidden just behind the veil -- continues to wear away at whatever rogue warm-'n-fuzzies might emerge from other facets of local life. On the other hand, you can live comfortably here on a budget that wouldn't pass as pocket change in other cities, everybody you know is apparently just hiding around the corner waiting to bump into you, and you can wear sweatpants for a week straight without ever seeming out of place. Hooray for balance!

[the cold cold ground: like an old beat up buick]
"it can be excruciating at times living in a city that somehow always finds a way to hold itself back."

This post, which makes reference to the post linked above, offers an interesting contrast in its reversal of perspectives; where the above looks at Winnipeg from a background of living in other cities, this instead looks at other cities from the background of living in Winnipeg. One outside-inward and one inside-outward, the former seemingly more flattering than the latter. And it is frustrating, the sentiment he fleshes out here, that constant mental graph of the forever-lengthening distance between what the city is and what the city could be if it could only get its act together.

Discussion occasionally pops up about what any given city might be like as a person, but in the grand scheme of things Winnipeg is really more the family dog -- and not a purebred or a show-dog or anything like that, just that one goofy mutt your folks had that clearly hadn't been bred for intelligence. It was charming and perhaps even sort of pretty in its own homely, quirky way, and you loved it to bits (despite itself) once it had time to grow on you, but you never could bring yourself to respect it; it is difficult, if not impossible, to respect anything that never learns from its mistakes. Not that you didn't want to believe in it! You wanted so badly to give it the benefit of the doubt, that it wanted to be good and maybe just hadn't yet figured out how, but then every time you turned around it would do something stupid and harmful to itself like eat its own poop or dart into traffic or chase the exact same skunk that ruined everyone's evening two weeks ago. The Winnipeg hometown experience in ten words is "I love you, but cripes, what is wrong with you".

[CanHighways.com: Manitoba Highways at CanHighways.com]
Anyway, in the same vein of wanderlust and highway nostalgia as the Buick-themed page above, here are photographs of Manitoba highways. No, hold on, I don't think I'm conveying the scope of this site properly. Here are the most photographs you have ever seen of Manitoba highways, spanning well over a hundred different Manitoba roadways including several Winnipeg thoroughfares and a few now-decommissioned provincial routes. I'm serious, poke around that site for a while, it's pretty impressive.

[beautifulwinnipeg.posterous.com: Winnipeg is Beautiful]
But perhaps roads are not your bag, perhaps you are more into old buildings and pointy bridges and accidentally-remaining patches of urban greenspace. Erica Glasier's recent project has every possible kind of thing you could want and a few things that you wouldn't expect in a civic picture gallery, so between this and the highways site you'll be able to sink the better part of a day into your tumblr reblogging or whatever it is kids do these days.

[People, Places and Things: Me VS. The Stairs. (Some silly stick men.)]
And on the subj... hey, speaking of wh... hey, while we're... nah, hell, I don't know, I'm out of segues. Here is a CreComm student drawing herself falling down the stairs.

[archiewood YouTube: Funtown Part 1]
Not that I'm telling you anything surprising, but old television programs produced in Winnipeg were more often than not completely bonkers insane. What you are about to watch is... not an exception.

Every so often you'll run into somebody who claims to be freaked out by puppets, and if you're anything like me you usually brush them off in your head like "pffffft, okay, dude, good luck with that". But then you'll see something like this -- note the passage from 1:42 to 1:47 where the Archie Wood puppet twitches in place for three seconds and then snaps his head ninety degrees around, like a Candle Cove outtake -- and begrudgingly admit that, okay, maybe puppets are kind of freaky sometimes. Note also this excerpt from the comments section below the video: "I remember watching this when I was a little kid. I don't remember it being this fucking demented."

I do kind of want to dress up as Grandpa Wood for next Hallowe'en now, though, even though pretty much everybody will mistake it as a Hipster Colonel Sanders costume. (Grandpa Wood's head shape and diagonal pointy beard also remind me of the Mu spirit from EarthBound, because I completely wasted my childhood.) And I'm sort of surprised that there was never a Venetian Snares remix of the Funtown theme song, because, man, listen to that thing.

Anyway, if you were watching this video just now and thinking "this is nice and all, but what I'd really like is for the puppet to do an Anne Murray cover", well, here you go. I am probably not doing any of this proper justice by writing about it while sober.

[Grant's Tomb (Brandon Sun): Name that park]
To conclude today's segment, here are at least a dozen different things that you previously hadn't known about Brandon. Never let it be said you don't learn anything from this feature!

ManLinkWeek, every Tuesday; we'll see you then!


Ben Century said...

I grew up watching Uncle Bob's show. I never thought it was creepy, but it was entertaining to say the least.

Uncle/Mayor Bob also released a few albums with his puppets. I posted about one here. Most of it consists of 33rpm records played on 45rpm. I think I can honestly say that I miss the locally produced TV shows and the 'talent' that showed up to make their own shows.

Emma said...

A very belated thanks for the mention! Hurrah for sweatpants!