The sounds of Canadiana

The melancholy indie folk sound of Great Lake Swimmers has prompted many to label the band "Americana," but frontman Tony

Dekker is actually from the Great White North, so Paste Magazine properly coined the phrase "Canadiana" to describe the music. That's especially true on the Swimmers' most recent album, "Ongiara," which features 10 songs largely inspired by Canada's natural environment.

Fresh off a week conducting "Folk Boot Camp" at the prestigious Calgary Folk Music Festival, Great Lake Swimmers will be at the High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave. at 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21.

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Tickets are $10 at the door, and Laura Gibson opens.

Prelude to Ironman

If you notice a sea of humanity in Lake Monona on Saturday morning, don't scratch your head and wonder how it got to be September already; Ironman Wisconsin is still three weeks away.

Rather, this batch of swimmers will be competing in one of six Open Water National Championships sanctioned this year by U.S. Masters Swimming.

The race does, however, serve as a de facto mass practice for the Ironman, because it covers the same 2.4-mile distance as the Sept. 7 race. (The added bonus: Participants in the Open Water event don't need to follow up the swim with a 112-mile bike ride and full marathon run.)

No wetsuits are allowed for the national championship division, but are kosher for the novice category races at distances of 2.4 and 1.2 miles. Start time is 8 a.m.

Notably, the top dogs in the sport won't be here -- the Open Water competition at the Olympics is this weekend, too.

Threads for tots

Looking to dress up the kids in style, maybe so they look a little more like Brangelina's progeny and a little less like ragamuffins? No need to fight traffic and crowds at the mall with cranky kids in tow. Two local moms are helping take the hassle out of children's clothing shopping with their "Half-Pint Resale" this Friday, Aug. 22, 1 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 23, 9 a.m. to noon.

Located in the Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park St., the consignment sale offers maternity clothing and handmade toys from local artists in addition to a wide assortment of clothing for newborns up to 7-year-olds.

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Prices get slashed 50 percent on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. If you're interested in being a consignor or want to find out more, visit halfpintresale.googlepages.com.

Bottled up

To the delight of beer aficionados, award-winning Grumpy Troll beer is now available to take home, bottled by hand at the brewpub, located at 105 S. Second St., Mount Horeb.

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Doug Welshinger, brewpub owner, said the bottled Grumpy Troll beer has been a huge hit this summer, especially with tourists.

The bottling process, which takes place in the brewery basement, is a decidedly nonautomated process.

"The beer goes in a stainless tank, and goes through the beer lines to a couple of tubes our brewmaster, Mark Duchow, runs directly into the bottles. Then we put the caps on, one at a time, and I try to glue the labels on straight," Welshinger said.

The 22-ounce bomber-style bottles don't require refrigeration so they travel well, he added.

The available bottled brews include Captain Fred (an American lager), Eric the Red, Trailside Wheat Beer, and Grumpy Troll's Amnesia Baltic Porter, which won a coveted gold medal earlier this year at the 2008 World Beer Cup.

Moo state haiku

This weekend in Point,

Take a haiku walk with friends,

Honor the Midwest.

Unleash the power of three-line poetry this weekend at the Cradle of American Haiku Festival, which starts Friday evening, Aug. 22, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 24. It's located about an hour southwest of Madison in the town of Mineral Point. The festival celebrates the seminal role of Midwestern haiku poets and is the first of what organizers hope will become an annual or biennial event.

Highlights include: an opening reception and Wisconsin cheese tasting on Friday, 6 p.m., at the Foundry Bookstore, 105 Commerce St.;

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"Teaching Haiku in Schools and the Community," a workshop on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Mineral Point Opera House, 139 High St.;

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an homage to Raymond Roseliep ("the John Donne of Western haiku") starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, also at the Opera House; and a haiku walk through Mineral Point on Sunday morning. Saturday sessions cost $25 each or $35 for both. Find more info at www.modernhaiku.org/cradle or call Gayle Bull at Foundry Bookstore, 608-987-4363.

A Fergie sighting

No, not the one who manages to score Top 40 hits despite mind-numbing lyrics like this: "I'm going to miss you like a child misses their blanket."

We're talking about Ferguson Jenkins, the Hall of Fame pitcher who won 284 games in a 19-year major league career. Jenkins, best known for his two stints with the Chicago Cubs, will be in town the night of Saturday, Aug. 23, as the headliner at the third annual MLB/Mallards alumni game.

Other former major leaguers scheduled to attend include pitchers Vida Blue, Bill "Spaceman" Lee and John Tudor, along with former outfielder Jay Johnstone, who played for eight different teams over a 20-year career.

They'll play a seven-inning game starting at 6:05 p.m. against a group of ex-Mallards that includes Mike Springsteen (2001), D.J. Roshone (2003-04) and Jordan Comadena (2005-07).

Tickets range from $6-12 for the grandstand and $30 for Duck Blind. Visit www.mallardsbaseball.com or call 246-4277 for more information.

Local bands break out the funk to support autism

This Friday, Aug. 22, One Mother's Dream is hosting a benefit for families with high-functioning autistic children. The $10 cover will go to a fund that helps families afford therapy costs. A couple local bands are donating their talents to the cause: Boheme 66 kicks out fuzzy, garage-rock blues, and Weapons of Mass DeFunktion drops funky bombs of improv-based jazz. The omnipresent ladies of Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies bring out their usual mix of tongue-in-cheek burlesque and sass. It all goes down at the Dry Bean Saloon, 5264 Verona Road, at 9:30 p.m.

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