Friday, Oct. 16th, 2009
Thursday, Oct. 15th, 2009

Stephen Colbert says the fine citizens of Eau Claire are fat

Last night on the Colbert Report, Steven Colbert said we’re all super fat – as in the people of Eau Claire, specifically. The piece in question concerns the health care reform bill and an amendment that mandates lower premiums to people who lose weight. Here’s the excerpt, courtesy of Eat Me Daily:

  • The government's really sending really mixed messages: first they subsidize corn, making it so cheap we can gorge on high fructose corn syrup, then they charge us more for health insurance just because our organs have caramelized. Well I'm sorry, but our bodies are the only growth industry America has left. China may have 1.4 billion people, but I doubt they outweigh the combined residents of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Being overweight is as American as eating a whole apple pie. And we're the majority folks, 67% of the population is either overweight or obese, the scales are literally tipped in our favor.

Here’s a link to the whole show in question over on Hulu. The Eau Claire reference happens in the bit starting around 6:30.

Come on, Steve, lay off the Midwest. Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, and Louisiana are the fattest states in the nation. Wisconsin is a distant-ish 26th. Details.

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Tonight: Back Stage Concert Series

Tonight V1 and the State Theater usher in another concert series to downtown Eau Claire. At 7pm, the Back Stage Concert Series kicks off with bluegrassers New North String Band and backwater indie-rockers The Gentle Guest. According to a local arts and culture magazine called “Volume One” …

  • Co-developed by The State Theatre and Volume One, the Back Stage Concert Series brings you in through “the wings” and onto the venue’s stage for concerts bookmarked by a brick wall on one side and the velvet curtain on the other, creating an intimate, awesomely lit space of its own. While the event is open to all ages, a small bar will still serve beer, wine, and soda. Taking the stage about once a month will be exclusively local talent the likes of The Jaggernauts, Drunk Drivers, Meridene, Laarks, The Excellent Adventure, South Farwell, Jim Pullman Band, QuinnElizabeth, and more. If your mental picture of this series is still a bit vague, check this out …

For more videos, check out the hyper-official website for the Back Stage Concert Series. You'll also find dates, performer info, and audio tracks.

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Wednesday, Oct. 14th, 2009

Filmed in Wisconsin:
Clear Lake, WI

Clear Lake, WI, a film made in its titular location in southeast Polk County, recently premiered in Hudson and is now screening in limited markets. In the film, a disease breaks out and local preacher (played by Michael Madsen of Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill) claims the outbreak is punishment for the town’s sins and influences a group of teens to kidnap other townspeople. Fifteen years later, a filmmaker convinces some of the former teenagers to return to Clear Lake. But when they return, all hell breaks loose. The regionally made Hollywood thriller has won awards at several film festivals, including the Audience Choice Award at the Boston Film Festival, and co-stars Clear Lake native Dustin Booth, who also produced it.

Watch the trailer ...

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Tuesday, Oct. 13th, 2009

UWEC Players to offer ‘Haunts of Eau Claire Bus Tour’

In an area with three paranormal investigation groups on hand, you may think the Chippewa Valley is safe and secure, but we’ve no shortage of ghost legends around these parts. To wit, the UWEC Players have gotten into the Halloween spirit and will be offering spooky guided bus tours through Eau Claire, chronicling its most vicious murders, heinous acts, and startling stories. These are the same theatrical students that recently put on the show Candid and acted as living statues at International Fall Festival. They warned us that this event is not for the faint of heart, so be prepared as the knowledgeable and experienced guides tell some gruesome local tales and introduce you to national legends like Lizzie Borden and Pogo the Clown. Bring a hand to hold (or clutch), because this one and-a-half hour ride might test your nerves. The remarkable paranormal history of EC is also not for children, so if you are under 18, you are required to be with an adult. Seats are limited, (30 per bus) so buy your tickets sooner rather than later, or you will be left behind! Tours will depart from UWEC's Kjer Theatre on October 23, 24, 30, and 31 at 8pm and 10pm. Cost: $12 student, $16 public. Private groups may also be arranged ahead of time.

Contact to reserve tickets. For specifics, check out the Player’s website.

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Photo Contest Deadline: Oct. 23

Y’all better start snapping some hot shots with your fancy-pants cameras because the deadline to our annual photo contest is hurtling toward you like a flaming Jack-o-Lantern hurtled by a headless specter of the evil night.

Yes, we’ve been talking about Halloween today.

Anyway, you’ve only got about 1.5 weeks to submit entries to the contest. You could win cash prizes and the fame and glory of having your images published in 15,000 copies of Volume One Magazine. We’ll accept three photos per person, and they must have been taken in the Chippewa Valley in 2008 or 2009.

Please no flowers, waterfalls, babies, or American flags. And also, no babies holding flowers while wrapped in an American flag while going over a waterfall. It’s a great shot, but it’s been done before.

Read the full rules and submission details here. And check out last year’s winners.

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Monday, Oct. 12th, 2009

DNR to offer you all-new,
all-ugly wildlife license plates

As you know, if there’s one thing Wisconsinites love above all else, it’s beer cheese hunting deer the Packers lefse liberty protecting endangered animal species. It’s just in our blood. That’s why so many of us are driving around with a little gray wolf on our license plates. The extra money we pay for those plates goes directly to the DNR so they can help defend our state’s many fine animals that are less than successful at staying alive.

But even the largest lovers of endangered species must admit – them wolf plates are played out (yo). Well, starting in 2010, you’ll have another option. And the DNR wants us to help choose what animal they’re gonna slap on the optional license plates. According to JSOnline, the DNR only made about $387,542 off the wolf plates last year, and they’re really looking to give their finances a jolt in the arm. So they have a little poll set up to make sure they offer something popular …

  • … four other license plates are under consideration that feature an Eastern bluebird, great blue heron, red-headed woodpecker and, of course, the American badger. All of the plates depict the diversity of state wildlife.
  • The Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to weigh in on which ones they like. People can vote online until Oct. 19 at Click on the button for "new license plate designs.” The DNR and the state Department of Transportation will make the final pick.

So go vote! Animals on the brink of extinction aside, those plate designs are ugly. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get plates with the little gray wolf on them (as a species, they’re still hanging in there!) Both special plate options will cost $25 extra, all of which goes to the DNR.

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Are we overflowing with vinyl?

Over the weekend, we were tipped off about the new all-vinyl record store up on Clairemont by Old Country Buffet. We’ve got an unconfirmed open date of Monday, October 5th.

We haven’t been there yet, but our tipster says the place is great and the owner is a nice guy. He also said the stock is all used right now, and he picked up good used versions of Neil Young’s Harvest, Prince's 1999, The Band, ABBA. So take that as you will.

Revival Records, 2541 E. Clairemont Ave. Has anyone else been there yet?

And if that weren’t crazy enough, also over the weekend, our managing editor Trevor patroned a newly opened used vinyl shop across the alley from Eclectica on Grand Avenue. Two new vinyl shops in Eau Claire, opening within weeks of each other? Could it be? Is the (zombie) apocalypse coming? What's going on?

Rest assured, we’ll be looking into both places and reporting back.

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Sunday, Oct. 11th, 2009
Saturday, Oct. 10th, 2009

Ghost Story From Chippewa: October 15th, 1908

Paranormal investigator Chad Lewis
Paranormal investigator Chad Lewis

Ghost Story From Chippewa  
Writer Sent Out Sensational to the Metropolitan Press
Eau Claire Leader | October 15, 1908

Some penny-a-liner sent out the following story from Chippewa Falls regarding an apparition that is supposed to be lurking in the town of Washington: Chippewa Falls. Farmers of the town of Washington who have passed at night what is known as Lowes Creek hill, are confident it is haunted. Frequently they have seen a specter hovering above the creek, near the hill, and repeatedly pursued by it. At Times, the apparition plays jokes on the farmers by purloining some of their personal property as they pass. Usually these articles are found the next day in some out-of-the-way place. The last persons who had an experience with the “ghost” are Joseph Browning, Olwin Peloquin and Max Fredick.

Chad’s Take:  
Will the spirits of Lowes Creek ever be at rest?
The above story is a follow up to an article titled Strange Happenings on Lowes Creek Hill that appeared in Eau Claire Leader on October 11, 1908, which I wrote about in this column last year. Inside the article I had included an email from a woman living in the Lowes Creek Hill area who was experiencing odd events. On the way to work, the witness stated that she had seen a mysterious woman roaming the side of the road. Little did this woman know, that she was not alone in her belief that strange things were brewing at Lowes Creek Hill.

I recently dug back into my archives and discovered another email from a woman who also lived out in the Lowes Creek area from 1972-1990. This woman told me that she was experiencing some paranormal activity near the home in the country where she had lived. Her family’s home was a very old farm house, and she was curious to know if the events she was witnessing were connected to the same spirit that was featured in the 100 year-old newspaper article. She wrote:

“I heard at one time that a farmer might have committed suicide there in the barn. But one night, my step mom and dad saw the light on in the upper part of the barn. They went to check it out and tried the light switch they thought would turn it off but it just wouldn’t turn off. When they shone the flashlight up near the light bulb, they saw that the electrical cord running to it was cut. It had no electricity running to it, but the light was still shining. We say that the old ghost farmer must have been up doing chores.”

During this time of year, with Halloween fast approaching, I get overrun with requests from people looking to find a haunted place in which they can visit to possibly have their own paranormal experience. Most are seeking a truly creepy place where they can scare themselves. I usually like to recommend places where numerous people have experienced unexplained events over a period of many years. Well known Chippewa Valley hauntings like Caryville, Elk Lake Dam, and Lakeview Cemetery will be extremely crowded with curious Halloween sightseers. If you want to break away from the masses and visit a place with over 100 years of activity, I suggest you venture out to Lowes Creek where you might just become the next on a growing list of people who believe that they are not alone while at Lowes Creek.

Keep an eye out…

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