Tuesday, Oct. 6th, 2009

Brand Name Elementary?

As city and school budgets continue to plummet across the state and nation, officials are scraping the very bottom of the barrel for ideas to stay afloat. But recent discussions on the local level to attract advertising dollars are about as slippery a slope as they come. Like Crocodile Mile with Vaseline.

While everyone else was watching the Vikings edge the Packers on Monday, the Eau Claire school board discussed (and approved) the selling of naming rights for its facilities. As WEAU reported, “With the ruling, board members say they could sell naming rights for a large amount of money or name their facilities to honor people who were great leaders or have historic significance.” That’s true, but isn’t it also true that Lakeshore could become Hannah Montana Elementary School, or “The Doghouse” at North High could become Twilight Gymnasium, or Memorial could become High School Musical 4 High School?

It sounds ridiculous, but it was the exact concern of City Manager Mike Huggins a few months ago when he discussed the same revenue-generator to help alleviate the city’s anticipated budget shortfall of between $1.2 and $1.7 million in 2010. “The question is how far do you go?” he said. “Does city hall become the Pepsi Government Building?”

While the school district has yet to have offers of this kind, and expects to discuss it further at upcoming informational meetings, it’s hard to think about the scheme without recalling the lyrics to The Limbo Rock: How low can you go?

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Wisconsin Congressman in new Michael Moore film

Whether it makes you happy or sad, Michael Moore’s newest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, has yet to be placed in a Chippewa Valley theatre. I guess the movie brokers down in Chicago (or wherever their little office is located) didn’t think it’d make much money up here. I really hope the film comes to a local theatre, though, because it apparently features Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R). According to a story (which I believe is an opinion piece) from The Cap Times, Ryan “is shown playing the fear card by telling the House that it had to steer almost $800 million to Wall Street's sleaziest players.” They say …

  • "If we fail to do the right thing, heaven help us - if we fail to pass this I fear the worst is yet to come," claimed Ryan.
  • The statement from the Wisconsin Republican who has positioned himself as a budget specialist in the House played a significant role in securing support for a bailout bill that had not been adequately analyzed and that included few protections against fraud.
  • Had Ryan used his reputation and his role on key committees to aggressively oppose the bailout, he might have blocked the rush to judgment that economists now say could end up costing American taxpayers trillions of dollars - and a big chunk of their country's future.

I don’t know if you’ll agree with everything the Cap Times writer has to say on all this, but it’s obvious that Ryan pushed for bailout funds for banks – while car factories are closing in his home town of Janesville and elsewhere in his own district. It’s not always fun to see Wisconsinites in the moobies.

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Monday, Oct. 5th, 2009
Sunday, Oct. 4th, 2009

Weekly Shakedown:
What You Mighta Missed

Here’s an amazing collection of supper hot local stuff you might have missed last week.

Have a nice Sunday, y’all.

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Saturday, Oct. 3rd, 2009

Saturday: Leo Kottke

The big show at Menomonie’s Mabel Tainter Theater this weekend is Mr. Leo Kottke. Kottke's picking is forceful and percussive, with the thumb fully integrated into the patterns instead of standing apart as s bass line. When he bends a note, he does it with calibrated accuracy with clever, complicated reimaginings of American folk styles. His stage monologues represent an opposite disposition altogether, a free-associative roll one imagines as a possible result of his strong touring lifestyle. Oh, and he plays with the bassist from Phish a lot. And he’s had 37 albums since 1969. The show's 8-10pm. Details.

Also on Saturday: Free Community Yoga, Parade of Colors Fall Hike on the Ice Age Trail, 10th Annual Dunn County Artists Tour, Chippewa's Fall Harvest Festival, 2nd Annual Fall Roots Fest, Annual Booya & Fall Festival, Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, A Semester at Sea, The Showoff-Show, and the rock of Kaptivating Kate + The New Labor + Cathode Rays + Passing Shadows.

And on Sunday: Blessing of the Animals, A Nice Family Gathering, and Gong Karaoke,

Art shows: Kaz Kuroki's exploding peacocks, The Four-Color World: Comics, Models & More, Walk Among the Spirits, and Madison Artists from the Leff Collection 1950-1990,

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Friday, Oct. 2nd, 2009

Serendipitous Songs

I believe it was my ninth grade biology teacher that, on the first day of classes, made us fill out notecards that included the dates of our birth. Then, one at a time, he paged through this tome of a book and told us the song that appeared as No. 1 on the Billboard charts the moment we were born.

He insisted that this little nugget of trivia, like an Oracle in Greek tragedies, somehow said something about our future personalities. So imagine our giddiness when he unleashed Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long on some prim and proper girl, and then Madonna’s Like a Virgin on some jock star braggard.

There’s no question it was a fun classroom icebreaker – I bet you never thought you’d see the words “fun” and “icebreaker” in proximity – but for some reason it has stuck with me and every few months I think about my chart-topper, the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

Is it fate? Is it a fun fact? Am I really made of sweet dreams?

I’ll let you be the judge. Check out the song that topped the charts when you were born!

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Thursday, Oct. 1st, 2009

Favre fire a minor fiasco

Well, you’ve probably heard about Milwaukee Burger Co.’s plans to burn Brett Favre memorabilia during the upcoming Packers/Vikings game. The owner and manager were interviewed by ESPN2’s First Take for cripes sake (video), and the story was on this morning’s SportsCenter. The idea was to have some fun and raise  money for charity. Really, it was a genius idea from a restaurant promotion perspective, but alas, the crusty ol’ Fire Department had to step in and spoil the fun by "doing their job" to "keep everyone safe."

The Leader-Telegram has the details. Once you skip past the “Hey! We broke the story! We started it all! There’s 154 comments on the Twincities.com’s reprint!!!” part, we learn …

  • In response to some of the negative publicity and concerns from the Eau Claire Fire Department, it has been determined that one jersey will be burned and the remainder of the articles turned in will be donated to Goodwill. Every item turned in for the burn still will result in $10 being donated to Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety. Kolk wants the money to go to the alliance's summer camp for youth burn victims in East Troy. …
  • As far as the burning, Rick Merryfield, Fire Department deputy chief, said the restaurant won't be allowed to use a burn barrel, but it is cleared to use a campfire container that can be purchased. Or it could build something that resembles a campfire container.

Furthermore, “Milwaukee Burger Co. organizers also must have a fire extinguisher at the ready.” Yes, kids, it’s important to remember that safety comes first when burning sports stars in almost-effigy. We also learn from the L-T that some people were pissed because the eatery were going to burn stuff to raise money for burn victims. I guess that’s ironic, but offensive? Come on – they’re trying to raise charity money. Lighten up. However, some people complained that all those #4 jerseys and sweatshirts could be donated to Goodwill for people to, you know, actually wear. That’s an idea I can get behind.

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Wednesday, Sep. 30th, 2009

Minnesota: Where you can major in hip hop

It’s 2009, folks, and hip hop has finally earned enough respect and legitimacy to find a rightful place among academia. McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul recently added a degree in hip-hop, the first university in the nation to do so. I know it seems strange to think that Dr. Dre could actually be a doctor, but hey, things are headed in that direction. The program offers students education in language, music history, recording technology, and the music business. Despite being new, the program has 14 students looking to be the first graduating class of hip-hop – but they're all dudes.

In an effort to expand the hip-hop base to women, McNally is offering a scholarship program called – wait for it – B-Girl Be Hip-Hop Diploma Scholarship. The program gives hip-hop a chance to spread from the East and West coasts, making way for the next queen of hip-hop to come from the Midwest. Check out the program and scholarship.

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Tuesday, Sep. 29th, 2009

Wisconsin Tourism Federation
alerted to its own acronym

Hey, speaking of Wisconsin tourism logos – it’s official – WTF has become TFW. Never heard of the Wisconsin Tourism Federation (WTF)? Before today, neither had I. The newly named Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (TFW) is “a lobbying coalition of trade and promotional associations and organizations actively involved in Wisconsin's tourism industry.” So, what the frak are they doing changing their name? I’ll let the United Kingdom’s Telegraph explain:

  • The body charged with attracting more visitors to the midwestern state will now be known as the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (TFW), in an attempt to put a stop to the jokes.
  • It seems that the federation was unaware of - or unconcerned by - the modern meaning of WTF until its acronym featured on a blog that compiles unfortunate corporate logos earlier this year.
  • Commenters wondered whether an expression of foul-mouthed astonishment was the best way of boosting tourism to a state that would not be an obvious choice for most holidaymakers.

The federation held its WTF moniker since its inception in 1979, but the times, they have a-changed. I haven’t been able to track down to logo blog mentioned in the story. Let me know if you can.

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