Friday, Apr. 15th, 2016

What Does Wisconsin Google More Than Other States?

Estately has compiled Google trend data to show what each state Googled more than any other state in 2015. Each state seems to have covered every one of the biggest stories to hit the mainstream media last year. From Pennsylvania obsessing over the royal baby, to New Mexico looking to learn more about new discoveries with Pluto. If it was big news, some state definitely Googled it the most.

And then there’s Wisconsin. Like the hungry knowledge enthusiasts we are, we sought to delve into only the most important topic to hit 2015: What does “bae” mean? Forget the new breakthroughs in science or the current political climate overseas. Everyone from pop stars to middle schoolers are using this new, alien word and we stopped at nothing to get to the bottom of what this means.

Well, what does it mean?

If anyone has ever called you bae, don’t worry, it’s not some new curse word the kids made up to make fun of you in front of your face. In fact, it’s a term of endearment. According to this New York Times article, some claim it’s an acronym for “before anyone else,” while some say it’s a shorter version of the word “babe” or “baby.” The word started being used in 2013 and gained popularity through the Pharrell Williams song Come Get It Bae in July of 2014. Google trend data shows this was when it was at peak popularity before dwindling out mid 2015. While it looks like we’re behind on the trends, at least we can say we aren’t in the dark anymore.

Luckily, I wouldn’t say it was the worst Google search of 2015. Just think of those in Iowa looking to see if there’s any leaked news on which guy The Bachelorette has voted off. And the people of West Virginia were dying to find out more about Magic Mike XXL; exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, they want it all.

Hopefully we can try and find some more interesting topics to Google in 2016. Other topics we googled more than other states in 2016 include Rep. Paul Ryan (newly elected Speaker of the House), "Koch brothers," and Political activities of the Koch brothers.

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Friday, Apr. 8th, 2016

An Eau Claire Man’s Trump-Trolling Sign Made the Internet Great Again

UW-Eau Claire Dustin Zebro
UW-Eau Claire student Dustin Zebro and his protest sign. 

A bit of Donald Trump-style braggadocio turned a UW-Eau Claire student’s hand-lettered sign into an Internet sensation.

We’re talking a huuuuuuuge number of hits, folks. It’s fantastic.

UWEC senior Dustin Zebro was one of more than 100 peaceful demonstrators who gathered outside Memorial High School in Eau Claire last Saturday to show their opposition to the Republican presidential frontrunner, who was speaking inside. Before the rally, Zebro recalled one of Trump’s trademark bold claims and converted it into humorous sign fodder. “I know signs. I make the best signs. Everyone agrees,” he wrote in black marker on white poster board.

(In case you don’t get the joke, The Donald declared in December that, “I know words, I have the best words,” while in November he said, “I have the world’s greatest memory. It’s one thing everyone agrees on.”)

“Quite a few yelled across and said, ‘You do have the best signs,’ ” he recalled. “I even got a few picture with Trump supporters. It was very friendly.”

If there was one thing at the Eau Claire Trump event that everyone agreed on, it was that Zebro’s sign was really, really funny – and apparently the Internet agreed. A user of the website Reddit posted a shapshot of Zebro and his sign online, and it quickly went viral. By the next morning, it had made the front page of Reddit – which essentially meant that it was among the hottest things on the Web. As of Friday, the original post by Reddit user StrachNasty (a.k.a. Jason Strachan) had received more than 5,300 upvotes and 2,100 comments, while the picture itself had 2.2 million views (and counting) on the image-hosting service Imgur.

Zebro awoke Sunday morning to texts and Facebook messages from friends who saw the picture blowing up the Internet. “I figured people would see it,” he says, “(but) I didn’t realized it would get concentrated in one place and spread all over.”

The original photo.
The original photo.

The sign got some attention from traditional media as well, particularly overseas. An article ran on the website of The Telegraph, one of Britain’s biggest newspapers. (The headline: “This anti-Trump protester makes the best signs. They're terrific.”) Stories also popped up in the Irish Examiner, Metro.co.uk, Yahoo News UK, and elsewhere. (They really liked the sign across the pond, apparently.)

Zebro says he stood for two and a half hours holding the sign without getting nasty feedback. “I actually didn’t get one negative comment the whole time,” he says.

If there’s anything Trump likes more than exaggerations, it’s insults, but Zebro says he stood for two and a half hours holding the sign without getting nasty feedback. “I actually didn’t get one negative comment the whole time,” he says.

“Quite a few yelled across and said, ‘You do have the best signs,’ ” he recalled. “I even got a few picture with Trump supporters. It was very friendly.”

The same went for the entire atmosphere of the rally outside Memorial. While tempers – and even violence – have flared between Trump fans and foes at rallies around the nation, the Eau Claire gathering was notably civil and even good-natured. Trump supporters lined up on the sidewalk and demonstrators standing in the street even tossed a football back and forth and sang along to Queen songs playing from a boombox.

As organizer Jordan Duroe wrote on Facebook, “Not only did numerous police officers come through the line to say thanks for how we conducted ourselves, but a reporter who has been on the road following Trump rallies all over the country and has seen other protests and clashes told me ‘this was something different!’ ”

As Trump himself would say, that’s very, very, very classy.

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Tuesday, Apr. 5th, 2016

Quick Survey: City Needs Input on Public Market Plan

An indoor public market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
An indoor public market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

What do you find when you stir fry Eau Claire’s beloved downtown farmers market, the mushrooming local food movement, and downtown redevelopment? Maybe, just maybe, you get a permanent indoor public market like the one the City of Eau Claire and its partners are pondering. With the help of a federal grant, the city is studying the feasibility of such a public market, likely in the soon-to-be-redeveloped Cannery District on the west bank of the Chippewa River. The idea isn’t to replace the downtown farmers market, but rather to build on the Valley’s growing local food scene with a flexible facility that can give consumers access to locally grown foods and beverages – as well as locally made products – on a year-round basis. Ideally, creating the market will be good for the economy, the neighborhood, and for the public’s health. The next step in building momentum for the idea is gathering public input through a short online survey, which you’ll be able to take through April 17 here: 

www.surveymonkey.com/r/eauclaire_publicmarket

The survey only takes a few minutes to complete, but it will help the city gather invaluable information about what the public would like to see in a market. As the survey explains, “The indoor market would provide stalls for independent, locally owned businesses (including farmers) to sell fresh and prepared foods. It might also include facilities for educational programs and events.” The feasibility study is funded by $25,000 each from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire, Marshfield Clinic, and Mayo Clinic Health System-Northwest Wisconsin. To learn more about the project, contact associate city planner Ned Noel at ned.noel@eauclairewi.gov or (715) 839-4914.

 

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TODAY! VOTE!

WHEN: Wisconsin’s spring elections will be Tuesday, April 5. Polls are open between 7am and 8pm.

WHERE: Your polling place will vary depending on where you live. To find your polling place, go to myvote.wi.gov, click on “Regular Voter” and then “Address Search.” (The website can also help you find out if you’re registered to vote at your current address and show you a sample ballot for your district.)

PROPER ID: To find out what kind of ID you'll need, go here

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Monday, Apr. 4th, 2016

VOTE NOW: Pick Our Next Local Legends Tee

Legendary Local Legends (Tees)
Legendary Local Legends (Tees)

Volume One and The Local Store have launched a new series of limited-edition, vintage-style tees featuring the logos of famous former businesses we all know and love. We call the series Local Legends, and YOU picked the first five tees we made - London Square, Kerm's, Woo's PagodaTimm's Dairy, and The Camaraderie!

Well get ready, because we're launching another Local Legends tee this Spring and once again, YOU get to choose the design! This new collection of contenders includes the top vote-getters that didn't make last year's cut, plus additional suggestions from members of our community. Basically, these ideas came from you, and now you get to pick the winner.

Go to our Local Legends page and vote for your THREE favorite options, and/or suggest additional t-shirt ideas below. Voting enters you in a drawing for a $50 Local Store Gift Card! Include your email and we’ll let you know when your picks get made in case you want one. As is the case with all our tees, they'll be printed right here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

VOTE HERE: VolumeOne.org/legends

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Friday, Apr. 1st, 2016

Justin Vernon to Introduce Bernie Sanders at Eau Claire Rally

Get ready to feel the Bern – and the Vern.

Justin Vernon – a.k.a. Bon Iver, a.k.a. Wisconsin’s biggest indie music celebrity – will be introducing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders when the Vermont senator speaks Saturday morning.

And no, to answer the obvious question, this isn’t an April Fools Day joke. Seriously. Our sources are as close to the situation as can be.

Doors will open at 10am for the rally at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. The event is free and open to the public, but online RSVPs are strongly encouraged.

Sanders, who is locked in a vigorous race against former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, has gathered a diverse list of endorsements from musicians, ranging from rapper Killer Mike to Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Meanwhile, Clinton will speak later Saturday at the Lismore (doors at 1:15pm), Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is appearing at 7pm Saturday at Memorial High School, and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz will drop by Florian Gardens at 7:30pm Sunday. Now that’s what we call a full slate.

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Movie Based on Michael Perry Book Blasted by Critics for Excessive CGI

Local writer Michael Perry helps with digital effects for preproduction of the indie film POP. 450, which is based on Perry's memoir Population: 485. (Production photo provided by JuniperGO.)
Local writer Michael Perry helps with digital effects during preproduction of the indie film POP. 450, which is based on Perry's memoir Population: 485. (Production photo provided by JuniperGO.)

We’ve all wondered for years if a movie studio would adapt one of Michael Perry’s books for the big screen, especially now, as the New York Times bestselling author from New Auburn has added a few works of fiction to his catalogue. Well, read on – things appear to happening.

Independent film company JuniperGO obtained the movie rights to Michael Perry’s breakout memoir Population: 485 - Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time in June 2008, produced a script a few years later, and began preproduction early last fall.

The film’s current working title is POP. 450. The script writer, Jens Begemann, is known for penning indie films such as Venison Jerky, Big Sunnies, and Rougher Than a Cob.

However, “the bloom may be off the rose,” as Perry wrote in Population: 485, describing his hometown. After reviewing early test footage of the film, industry insiders have so far criticized the film for straying too far from Perry’s source material, spending most of their reviews lambasting the studio’s over-zealous use of computer generated imagery (CGI).

At best, they call it “pointless” and “embarrassing.” At worst, Daniel Hodges, a film critic with IndieLenz magazine calls the digitally altered footage “a despicable disservice to memoir writing and all other literary genres ever created. Or imagined.”

Amongst the studio’s most baffling uses of CGI is in the portrayal of Population: 485’s main character – the town of New Auburn. We hear the small Wisconsin burg will be almost entirely recreated inside a computer. Using super high-res drone-mounted scanners, the studio has created a completely digital version of New Auburn, allowing the director a 360-degree, utterly fake view of the otherwise easily filmed location – down to the last weed on Main Street and rust-speckled manure spreader.

“Seriously, each udder is rendered to act independently of the others,” resulting in “the most realistic onscreen portrayal of a Holstein in the cinematic history.”  – Creative Director Harry Bischoff on the special effects in <em>POP. 450 | Image: A screenshot from a Harvester FX work station</em>
“Seriously, each udder is rendered to act independently of the others.” – Creative Director Harry Bischoff on the special effects in POP. 450. (Image: A screenshot from a workstation at Harvester FX.)

One can assume that actual filming in Wisconsin has become cost prohibitive for JuniperGO since the state gutted its “Film Wisconsin” incentives program back in 2013.

In an interview with IndieLenz (released April 1), director Jackson Jones describes the drone-scanning process as “...totally changing the game. The heartland game. We’re redefining how the Wisconsin aesthetic manifests on screen. We can do anything we want in New Auburn! We could have an earthquake! We could have dinosaurs!”

“We won’t. But we could,” he added.

JuniperGO farmed out all of the CGI and effects shots in POP. 450 to Los Angeles-based effects house Harvester FX, the animators behind the tractors seen in 2011’s Footloose remake.

One of the film’s more bewildering CGI moments is an extended shot during the opening credits showing fields of digitally reproduced dairy cows – as in, a lot of cows. Way too many cows. Harvester FX Creative Director Harry Bischoff calls the imagery a “sea change in bovine modeling.” He told IndieLenz, “Seriously, each udder is rendered to act independently of the others,” resulting in “the most realistic onscreen portrayal of a Holstein in the history. You know, not counting actual footage of a cow. It’s a phenomenal leap forward.”

 (Production photo provided by JuniperGO.)
EMOTION CAPTURE: To help create POP. 450's main character – Michael Perry himself – the author has spent hours in a special motion capture suit. (Production photo provided by JuniperGO.)

Bischoff also cites his company's groundbreaking work in “digital milk flow dynamics” and “artificial chicken intelligence” as effects by which POP. 450 audiences are sure to be stunned.

And much like New Auburn, Population: 485’s other main character – Michael Perry himself – will also be replaced with an almost entirely CGI presence. Perry’s body will be totally digital while his face and hair will be replaced by quirky actor James Franco. Jones assures IndieLenz that Franco’s facial and follicle performances will “will blow your damn mind.”

However, (perhaps to his credit?) Jones is basing the character’s movements and mannerisms on Perry himself, using somewhat cutting edge motion capture technology to achieve the proper “small town swagger.” Reports indicate that Perry – who did seven months of CrossFit to aid in the process – has already spent over 75 hours in a special motion caption suit as cameras record his every twitch, hunker, and mosey.

We’re skeptical as to how audiences will react to POP. 450, and perhaps the studio is too, as a release date for the film has yet to be announced.

Film critic Jason Richardson of the LA Times, another writer who's berated the film’s early footage, may have summed it up best, saying, "I really can't even believe they're making POP. 450. This movie is a total joke."

Above: Way too many cows. | Image: POP. 450 test footage provided by Harvester FX
Above: Way too many cows. (POP. 450 test footage provided by Harvester FX.)

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Thursday, Mar. 31st, 2016

This Weekend: Sanders, Clinton, Trump, and Cruz Are Coming for Your Votes [UPDATED]

The Chippewa Valley is suddenly the center of the political universe – or at least it will be for a weekend. According to multiple media reports, four major candidates for president will be descending on our fair city in the coming days in advance of the Tuesday, April 5, primary. Here are the details:

➜ Democratic candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will speak at noon, Saturday, April 2, at Zorn Arena on the UW-Eau Claire campus. The doors will be open at 10am, and parking will be available in the Hibbard and Water Street lots. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are encouraged through Sanders’ campaign website

➜ Former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in a tight race with Sanders in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary, is also slated to appear in Eau Claire Saturday, although a time and place have yet to be announced, the Leader-Telegram reports. UPDATE! Clinton will appear at The Lismore Hotel (the former Ramada), 205 S. Barstow St. Doors will open at 1:15pm, the Leader-Telegram says. (As of Friday morning, her website is mum on tickets, but keep an eye on it.)

➜ On the Republican side, reality TV star, real estate mogul, and current frontrunner Donald Trump reportedly rented out Memorial High School on Saturday, the L-T says. However, as of Thursday afternoon his campaign website only lists one upcoming event, and that’s 3pm Saturday in Wausau. UPDATE! The Donald will speak at 7pm at Memorial, and you can get tickets on his website.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas – who just picked up the endorsement of Gov. Scott Walker – already visited the Valley back on Monday, meeting with supporters at Altoona Family Restaurant. Cruz is scheduled to appear at a rally between 7:30-9pm on Sunday, April 3, at the Florian Gardens, 2340 Lorch Ave. You can sign up for tickets here.  In addition, Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and former GOP rival Carly Fiorina will be stumping for him from 8-9am Friday at Green Mill Restaurant, 2703 Craig Road. To RSVP, go to www.tedcruz.org/events.

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5 Great Costumed Groups in Local Pillow Fight History

Volume One's annual April Fool's Day Pillow Fight may now be nothing more than memories (as our last one was in 2012), but we can still look back over the fluffy attacks. Here are some of the greatest group costumes from over the years. 

1. The (Ever)Green Spandex Band, 2010

Members of bluegrass rock outfit Evergreen Grass Band sported neon green unitards (above) and sprang from nowhere when the fight started. Awesome.

2. Just Local Food, 2006

In surprise bombardment fashion, folks representing Just Local Food jumped from the back of their delivery truck clad in carrot smocks and rushed the battle zone as it began.

3. The Pillow-Strapped Berman Family, 06-10

This dedicated family has shown up every year, often with highly personalized helmets, goggles, and pillow-based armor emblazoned with drawn-on targets and words like “Hit Me.”

4. The Chippewa Valley Roller Girls, 2010

Clad in their signature punky costumes and pads, many of the (then) newly formed Chippewa Valley Roller Girls pummeled people with pillows.

5. The Pillow Fight Inspectors, 06-The End

We gotta toot our own horn here a bit, cuz the staff and contributors of Volume One have every year come with lab coats, helmets, and clipboards to make sure it’s all good clean fun.

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Wednesday, Mar. 30th, 2016

UW-Stout's Game Design Program Levels Up

Emily Dillhunt, a senior majoring in game design and development, uses a virtual reality headset while working in a UW-Stout design lab. The game design program has been ranked 21st in the U.S. and Canada by Princeton Review.
Emily Dillhunt, a senior majoring in game design and development, uses a virtual reality headset while working in a UW-Stout design lab. The game design program has been ranked 21st in the U.S. and Canada by Princeton Review.

UW-Stout’s game design and development program has been recognized on a national scale for the fourth year in a row, and it's been named by Princeton Review to be one of the best in North America. Their 2016 game design program rankings were released March 15 and listed Stout at number 21, the the only one from Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa to make the top 50.

In a another Princeton Review ranking of the top 25 graduate schools for video game design, Stout came in at 17. Stout’s Graduate School offers a Master of Fine Arts in design with eight concentrations, including game design.

Stout offers two undergraduate game design programs, a Bachelor of Science program with a focus on computer science and a Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a focus on art. Math and computer science skills are needed to develop computer graphics, artificial intelligence and game engines. Art and design skills, such as drawing, digital imaging, and animation are needed to create interface components, 3D environments, and 3D characters.

A UW-Stout game design student created a video that required many of the skills students learn, including drawing, animation and creating 3D environments and characters.
A UW-Stout game design student-created video requiring many of the skills students learn, including drawing, animation and creating 3D environments and characters.

The rankings from Princeton Review are based on a survey of 150 schools in the U.S. and Canada that offer video game design. Robert Franek, Princeton Review's senior vice president and publisher, called it a “burgeoning” field and said the ranked schools offer “extraordinary opportunities” for students.

"The faculties at these schools are outstanding.” Franek said. “Their facilities are awesome. And their alumni include legions of the industry's most prominent game designers, developers, artists and entrepreneurs.”

UW-Stout’s original game design and development program was approved in 2009 by the UW System Board of Regents. The BFA program was approved in December of 2014.

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