Friday, February 12, 2010

Forty Below

A direct link to the above video is at

Last time, in Greetings from the Grids, we talked about the supposition that growing up on the wide open expanse of the prairies might affect a person's point of view. Another of the things that is remarkable about the prairies is that it's not unusual to have periods of extreme cold in the wintertime. Have you ever experienced forty below? Fahrenheit or Celsius, doesn't matter, it just happens that the two temperature systems cross over each other at this point. There does seem to be some kind of a dividing line as you approach minus forty, it's a whole different kind of cold and it's really hard to convey just how different it is to someone who hasn't personlly experienced it. In entries like Anime Gaming and Cusps and Seeing the Big Picture 3, we've talked about how there are moments in each of our lives where important branches take place within our probability space. Without getting too melodramatic about it, every time you go out in forty below you are dealing with weather conditions that could kill you if you're not careful or unlucky, and it's not a good idea to ignore those possible cusps that are all around you when you deal with extreme weather conditions such as these.

So: other than showing you the lyrics to this song and having you watch the above video, I want to make one important point: just because it was fun to add to the visuals, I put in some shots of dogs out in the cold. The fact of the matter is, at forty below exposed flesh freezes in minutes, and much faster than that if there's any wind, so conscientious pet owners do not leave any but the most furry of their furry friends out in this bitter cold for longer than it takes them to do their business and get back inside.

Does adversity build character? Does what fails to kill you make you stronger? Or do you have to be a little bit crazy to want to live in a place where the temperature actually hits this extreme? Hard to say, could be a mixture of all three. Here's the lyrics to this song, lovingly assembled from a lifetime of observation of this intense slice of life on the prairies:

Forty Below
- words and music by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

When it's forty below, snow sounds like styrofoam
It squeaks beneath your boots, high and chirpy
When it's forty below, Fahrenheit and Celsius become one and the same
It's just too damn cold, everyone agrees completely on this one

When it's forty below, your gob freezes in mid-air
Makes a round little marble that rolls across a frozen snowbank
When it's forty below, you go outside grim and fierce, a warrior
Or stay huddled inside, defeated by wind and temperature

Oh, and the frost on your front window turns thick as a blanket
A fuzzy white candy coating, can't scrape it away
And dogs'll soon start walking on three legs, switching
To keep whichever foot's coldest up close to their furry little bellies

When it's forty below, sound gets brighter
A distant jet sounds like fabric endlessly tearing and tearing
When it's 40 below, your car feels like a stranger's, your wheel stiffens
Anything plastic's probably gonna shatter

When it's forty below, jumpers carry lifeblood
From one vehicle to the next, red to red, black to ground
When it's forty below,the test of your samaritan spirit comes
When a perfect stranger in a parking lot asks if you've got cables

Yeah, and out on the highway, unless you're a fool
You've got a candle and a cup and some matches
A bit of candy and a shovel, all packed away in your trunk
Insurance for some terrible day of reckoning that could come...

When it's forty below
When it's forty below
When it's forty below
When it's forty below.

I hope you enjoyed this song, which I performed "live-to-tape" with my friends Bob Evans and Roberta Nichol back in 1997. Just a reminder, this is just one of a ten-song collection of songs we performed back then, if you'd like to purchase these ten songs as high-quality mp3s it's only five dollars for the whole collection, go to the Tenth Dimension Digital Items store if you're interested. And while you're there, check out the O is for Omniverse pdf, which we've reduced to $10 as a special for the month of February.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Gimme the News

1 comment:

Mariana Soffer said...

I loved the song rob, congrats on it, I thought the lyrics where great also, pretty poetic and deep, along with wisdom accompaning it.
Take care and hope you are doing well

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist