Thursday, Nov. 5th, 2009

Chippewa Falls:
Our Economic Darling

Chippewa Falls is getting some giant slaps on the back right now because they were able to balance their city’s budget without laying anyone off. They somehow managed to obliterate a $730,000 deficit with a potent combo of early retirements and insurance plan tweaks. So kudos to them.

Meanwhile, a host Eau Claire community and arts groups spent Tuesday evening pleading our city council to maintain (all or some of) their funding through city monies. Everyone from the Chippewa Valley Museum to the Eau Claire Municipal Band to the L.E. Phillips Senior Center was on hand to ask for continued support.

The Leader-Telegram’s Julian Emerson even describes how an elderly Municipal Band fan got out of his wheel chair at the city’s public hearing to plead his case. Which doesn’t seem to relate to the issue in any way at all.

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Wednesday, Nov. 4th, 2009

Show Review: Ross William Perry at The Snout Saloon

The crowd on Friday night was wild for the Jimmy Hendrix Experience. Shouting out chants of "Hendrix, Hendrix, Hendrix". And, there are few guitar players more capable to rise to that challenge than Ross William Perry. With a stunning rendition of Little Wing, it was Hendrix in the style, Stevie Ray Vaughan. I find myself humming it to myself still, and it is Saturday afternoon. During the third set, there was a rendition of All Along the Watchtower that had the boisterous crowd, spellbound. It was really a good night to be at the Snout Saloon.

It was a small crowd on Friday night. I had actually hoped it would be. I was hoping with economic times being what they are, maybe people would save up and only come out on Halloween night. There were short periods where the bar was busy. Only a few times were there people on the dance floor. Not the best night for a bar owner, but to a music fan sitting on the corner of a pool table, it was fantastic.

Ross was carrying a bit of domestic-bliss-weight, bringing him up to merely thin. He explained he and his girlfriend had just embarked on home ownership. Meals were starting to be mostly made at home. He seems very deliriously happy in his relationship. Good for him, and good for us too, as I think his skill continues to develop as a guitar player in proportion to happiness in his life ...

Check out the rest of the review (and what else went down that night) over at the Freaks & Geeks blog, originating from somewhere in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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Secret Service deems cheesehead an acceptable security risk

Liberian immigrant Mansfield Neblett had big plans to wear his beloved cheesehead to see President Obama speak at his daughter’s middle school in Madison yesterday. But Secret Service agents stopped him at the door. According to the good ol’ Associated Press, the cheddar-sporting Democrat informed Secret Service agents that if they wouldn’t let him wear his large, triangular, cheese-like hat to Obama’s speech, well, he was just staying home. Luckily, the Secret Service (after what I assume was an extremely thorough search involving several large X-ray machines) declared the cheesehead no-risk headwear and allowed Neblett to wear it.

The lesson in al this? It looks like our Department of Tourism’s attempts to shift the Wisconsin Identity away from beer and cheese has thus far failed. Hard core.

And hey. Has anyone else noticed that most cheesehead hats look like yellow Swiss cheese? Does that actually exists in nature?

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Shooting for the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival

It’s time to stop talking about your ingenious movie idea and actually make it. The 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival is officially looking for submissions. The festival accepts narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated films of any length. The festival is looking for films completed after January 1, 2008. Large and small productions are welcome, as audiences will vote for their favorite narrative and documentary films. There is a fee to submit certain films and a few prizes will be given to films in the Wisconsin’s Own and Wisconsin’s Own Student Shorts categories. Films have to be completed by February 15, 2010. Check out the website for more information.

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Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, 2009

Friday: Back Stage Concert II

Just a friendly warning from us to you: local bands Meridene and The Jim Pullman Band are gearing up to rock your pretty face off at the second Back Stage Concert Series concert at 7pm on Friday of this week down at the State Theatre. 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 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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Monday, Nov. 2nd, 2009

Bear apocalypse coming soon?

While most of the Chippewa Valley is content to talk about our recent rash of bank robberies – here, here, and here –, aka The Chippewa Herald, has taken the bold move of focusing on a different rash of harrowing incidents: bear-related car crashes. Apparently, there’s been a whole bunch lately. They say…

  • [Mike Gappa, a university bear studies supervisor, retired from the Wis. Department of Natural Resources] was taken aback after hearing of five bear-vehicle accidents taking place in Chippewa County in less than a week.
  • “Five bears in a week? That’s a lot of bears,” said Gappa, who retired from the DNR in 2003. Read more.

Let’s repeat that quote from the bear expert: “That’s a lot of bears.” The article goes on to list five separate bear-vehicle collisions happening between October 23 and Oct. 27 – indeed, a lot of bears. Gappa goes on to explain that in this time of year, once bears have fattened up for hibernation, they take a “long walk” to find a more southern sleepy time spot. So basically, he says there’re a lot of big fat bears wandering around the state right now, probably getting pretty groggy. But there’s no mention of why there might have been such a concentration of accidents compared to other years. We can only assume the Bear Apocalypse is looming. And soon, they will attack in our sleep.

At any rate, if you’re driving, keep your eyes peeled for big tubby woozy bears. Hitting a 400 pound animal is probably not a pleasant experience.

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Friday, Oct. 30th, 2009
Thursday, Oct. 29th, 2009

A Little Trip to Witch-Mart

Yesterday, we had an intern spend an hour (lovingly) cutting out and (lovingly) assembling the fine Halloween papercraft you see above. “Witch-Mart” is a free download from Lucky Radish Studios – a graphic design/animation studio in Chippewa Falls. We ran a story on Lucky Radish and its owner Chuck Gamble back in September ’08. And here's what he did last year for Halloween. You can download Witch-Mart yourself at (click on STUFF and then MISCELLANY to find all of Chuck’s Halloween fun).

Chuck designs these things to have two layers, so you can peek into the windows and see what’s inside. The best part is the last step in the assembly instructions, which reads “Place unfortunate trick-or-treater in harms way.” Check out more from Chuck Gamble. He also designed the fun Slide-a-ma-jig iPhone app.

Click on some close ups!


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Wednesday, Oct. 28th, 2009

Leinenkugel to tap area barley farmers?

In this article over on, Jake Leinenkugel is quoted about the “soul of beer,” i.e. barley, which stands out to me because my own soul is basically a large tank filled with beer. (Translate that metaphor on your own, kids.) What’s interesting is that Big Jake is talking about moving that soul a little closer to home. We excerpt-ize:

  • Leinenkugel says he's currently in talks with local farmers about starting to grow barley in the area, something that could help the local economy. He says, “That would be the first step in local in a big way because barley is such a huge ingredient in beer, it's the soul of beer.”
  • And City Planner Jayson Smith says that's good news for the county, “One of the largest industries in Chippewa County is agriculture, that industry is very, very important to the economy of Chippewa County and very important to the city of Chippewa Falls.”

Well, that’s actually pretty cool news. (Not sure where their barely comes from now). I hope the idea goes somewhere. The entire article is mostly about the brewery’s new pasteurizing system (set to start working early next year), which will save the company – and the environment – 20 million gallons of water a year. And probably a bunch of money. The new pasteurizer is also said to increase Leinenkugel’s potential for beer output. And if they end up increasing the amount of beer they brew up, it’ll mean more jobs.

Above photo by eleatherberry.

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