Tuesday, Jun. 18th, 2019

UW-Eau Claire Remains Best in State for LGBTQ+ Student Support

For the second consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire has been named the best school in the state for LGBTQ+ student support by BestColleges.com and Campus Pride, two websites dedicated to informing prospective students and ranking universities in the United States.

Christopher Jorgenson, the director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, is proud to be a part of the movement toward acceptance and celebration at UWEC, but maintains that there is still more work to be done. Jorgenson said that “rankings such as these do not serve as confirmation that we’ve reached some ultimate pinnacle of LGBTQ+ advocacy; rather, they are indications that we are on the right track.”

Since January of 2017, the United States has experienced an alarming number of setbacks and roadblocks in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. Nevertheless, it is Jorgenson’s hope that, “amidst a national political landscape saturated with white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia and virulent anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, UW-Eau Claire will continue to engage in critical self-reflection, so as to realize its institutional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

More from UW-Eau Claire

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Monday, Jun. 10th, 2019

How Wisconsin "Lost" Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The story behind this one is bizarre by our standard, mundane by 19th century standard.
The story behind this one is bizarre by our standards, yet mundane by 19th century standards.

It's (kind of) common knowledge in Wisconsin that what is now Michigan's upper peninsula was once part of America's dairyland, and was somehow ceded to our eastern neighbors. But just like most common knowledge, this isn't quite as true as it seems. It's actually the result of a war which had nothing to do with Wisconsin. And not the "aggressive diplomacy" sort of war. A sheriff was stabbed, so we're going to count it as a war.

In the 18th century, cartography wasn't an exact science and statelines weren't something you could look up on Google maps. In 1787, the U.S. government enacted the Northwest Ordinance, declaring the border between the state of Ohio and Michigan Territory as "an east west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan." Congress used the Mitchell Map to define this line, and as you can tell from looking at the map above, Mitchell was a bit off in his calculations. A straight line drawn with the US government's description would have cut off almost all of Ohio's access to Lake Eerie, which would have cost Ohio a lot of trade revenue. To avoid this, Ohio changed the description of the border itself so that it ran from Lake Michigan to Maumee Bay.

The inaccurate
The inaccurate "Mitchell Map" started a border dispute, an interstate "war," and decided the fate of the UP.

So far so good, until ...

So far so good, until Michigan applied for statehood in 1833 and drew the border between itself and Ohio using an accurate map and the original description of the border. This created a tract of land called the "Toledo Strip," 5 to 8 miles wide. To try and make Michigan give the land back, Ohio governor Robert Lucas pulled some favors in congress to deny Michigan's statehood. Enraged, Michigan governor Stevens Masons enacted the "Pains and Penalties" act making it an imprisonable offense to support Ohio in the Toledo Strip, and enforced it sending 1,000 Michigan militia to the strip. In response, Lucas sent 600 Ohio militia.

No Man's Land. I think I can hear Ennio Morricone in the background.
No Man's Land. I think I can hear Ennio Morricone music in the background.

Okay so the Toledo "War" wasn't that exciting; it was mostly bloodless skirmishes, arrests, lawsuits, and saber rattling. There was one bizarre case where Michigan sheriff Joseph Wood tried to arrest Major Benjamin Stickney for voting in an Ohio election while living in the strip. Benjamin and his sons, One Stickney and Two Stickney (you can't make this up), resisted and stabbed the sheriff. He survived his wounds, and it was enough to prompt both sides to withdrawn from the No Man's Land. The political scuffle went on until 1836 when a deal was reached. Michigan would gain statehood and give up the Toledo Strip, but gain the upper peninsula from the Northwest Territory. Ohio considered it a victory.

That is until people learned about the mountains stuffed full of copper and iron ore in the upper peninsula. More wealth came out of the UP than out of California during the gold rush, and supplied 90% of America's iron and copper. Sounds like Michigan got the better end of the deal.

In the summer of 1837, as the Toledo War was ending and Michigan was gaining its statehood, the Wisconsin territory was officially formed. Wisconsin was, at one point, part of Michigan territory but broke off before it ever had its own name on the upper peninsula. Thus, we never had it. But, if Ohio had just kept to itself and accepted the loss of the Toledo Strip, Michigan would have likely left the upper peninsula for Wisconsin.

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Friday, Jun. 7th, 2019

Pablo Center Unleashes Second Season Lineup (STOMP, Postmodern Jukebox, TU Dance and Bon Iver, Bill Engvall, Wynton Marsalis, & More)

International percussion sensation STOMP comes to the RCU Theatre in March 2020.
International percussion sensation STOMP comes to the RCU Theater in March 2020.

In August of 2018, the Pablo Center at the Confluence announced their first annual season lineup, chock-full of world-class spectacles and local legends.   It’s been a wild ride from Cloud Cult to Farewell Angelina, with stops in between including Chippewa Valley’s Torch Sisters’ La Caverne, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild’s Fun Home, and so much more.

After a year of firsts, the state-of-the-art venue is stepping up its game with the announcement of its second season, featuring live music, ballet, theater, circus, spoken word, fine art, magic, and more.  Twenty shows made the inaugural line up, but the 2019-2020 season boasts more than 30 headline shows, a set-list series, and gallery shows that will amaze and inspire.

A Few Highlights ...

Postmodern Jukebox • TU Dance and Bon Iver • STOMP • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis • Béla Fleck • Bill Engvall • Lyle Lovett • Trey Anastasio • John Hiatt • Chris Kroeze

The Main Shows

Come Through: TU Dance and Bon Iver comes to the RCU Theatre in November.
Come Through: TU Dance and Bon Iver • November 2019

Cirque Mechanics 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels • September 26, 2019 • RCU Theatre • A marvelous performance exploring the history and lore of circus through dance, acrobatics, and more.  42FT has American industrial ingenuity at its heart.

Ballet Hispanico • October 5, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Latin dance, contemporary movement, and ballet unite in an all-Latina program that celebrates the work of several Latina choreographers.

Ethel with Robert Mirabal • October 16, 2019 • RCU Theatre • This string quartet, which was nominated for a Native American Music Award, presents a program inspired by Water as the embodiment of Spirit, and its essential role in Life on Earth, along with Native American musician Robert Mirabel.

Postmodern Jukebox • October 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Contemporary classics take on a whole new identity when married with big-band, vintage country, doo-wop, and many other musical styles of the past.  In glamourous costume, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox will have audiences of all ages jammin’ along.

Todd Green: World Strings • October 30, 2019 • Listen to and learn about dozens of string, flute, and percussion instruments as Todd Green plays unusual rhythms and scales from around the world.  Audiences will learn about the culture and history of the music, enjoying the similarities and differences between Western and Eastern tunes and tools.

Spektral Quartet • November 5, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • This Grammy-nominated string quartet ties classic works and traditional songs and movements with more contemporary pieces with seamless flair.

Postmodern Jukebox • October 2019
Postmodern Jukebox • October 2019

Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) • November 9, 2019 • RCU Theatre • All 37 of William Shakespeare’s immortal tragedies and comedies blaze across the floor in record time.  From shrew-taming to midsummer night dreaming, this troupe weaves their way from play to play.

Cuentos: Tales from the Latino World • November 9, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Storyteller, playwright, and musician David Gonzalez brings tales from Spanish-speaking cultures of the world to life with memorable characters and positive messages for children. 

Me La Amargates Tú • November 14, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • This group shares the carefully preserved language and music of Sephardic Jewish communities, incorporating the use of medieval and renaissance instruments for a world-touring show.

Come Through: TU Dance and Bon Iver • November 22-24, 2019 • RCU Theatre • St. Paul dance troupe TU Dance, known for their exploration of social change through the choreography of Uri Sands, teams up with the Chippewa Valley’s ascendant musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver for an evening-length commission. 

Sandeep Das and Mike Block • November 25, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Cello and tabla (a pair of Indian drums) merge when Sandep Das and Mike Block, who originally met in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, bring their out-of-the-ordinary performance to the Jamf Theatre.

Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker • November 27, 2019 • RCU Theatre • A family favorite throughout generations, the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker is an enchanting escapade of holiday magic, sure to put audiences in good spirits.

A Charlie Brown Christmas • December 1, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Another holiday classic full of heartwarming scenes and beloved holiday characters, A Charlie Brown Christmas features the music of Vince Guaraldi and the discovery of the true meaning of Christmas.

Bill Engvall • January 2020
Bill Engvall • January 2020

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holiday Tour • December 11, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Timeless holiday carols and tunes take on a new timbre as performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  A holiday program full of big-band attitude, directed by Marcus Printup.

Leanne Brown • December 13, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • A one-of-a-kind author event by Leanne Brown, author of NY Times bestselling cookbook “Good and Cheap.”  This work is known for $4/day food stamps recipes with illustrations that are to-die-for.

Bill Engvall • January 18, 2020 • RCU Theatre • Observational satire at its finest and most relatable from recording artist, TV personality, and comedian Bill Engvall.

Alfredo Rodriguez Trio • January 23, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • This Cuban jazz musician exemplifies improvisation and adaptation with his eclectic, storytelling compositions.  Rodríguez is a globally recognized and Grammy-nominated musician.

Orlando Consort: Food, Wine, and Song • February 6, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Dinner and a show – at the same time.  The Orlando Consort pairs good music with good wine and a menu inspired by medieval feasts for an experience out of history.

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn • February 7, 2020 • RCU Theatre • “The family that picks together, sticks together.” Banjo musicians Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn pick their way to the Pablo for their Echo in the Valley national tour, pushing the instrument to its limits.

Call of the Wild • February 28, 2020• Jamf Theatre • Jack London’s classic tale of Buck, a sled dog in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush, comes to life through live storytelling and projected imagery. 

Cirque Mechanics 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels • September 2019
Cirque Mechanics 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels • September 2019

 Johnny Gandelsman - Violin • February 15, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Founding member of Brooklyn Rider and member of the Silkroad Ensemble, Grammy-award winning violinist and producer Johnny Gandelsman presents Bach’s complete cello suites on the violin.

Home Within: Kinan Azmeh and Kevork Mourad • February 19, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh and visual artist Kevork Mourad team up to reflect on the Syrian revolution and its aftermath through music and imagery.

Iny Asian Dance Theatre • February 29, 2020 • RCU Theatre • Iny Asian Dance Theatre is the first Hmong Dance studio ever developed in the United States.  They’ve performed in Thailand, Laos, China, Korea, and all over the united states, bringing traditional and contemporary performance together to amaze audiences.

Alicia Olatuja Quintet • March 18, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • From classical to jazz and R&B, Olatuja has been described by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone.”  She celebrates noted woman composers through her arrangements and performance.

Clara Osowski – Mezzo Soprano • March 31, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • An in-demand soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe, mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski celebrates springs with an evening of Schubert and other favorites.

Ben Seidman • April 2020
Ben Seidman • April 2020

Beep • April 5, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Beep, an unusual robot, crashes into a peaceful village where everything has its place, uprooting the routine of Mort’s village.  Gentle storytelling and puppetry tells the story of what happens when someone new comes to town.  There will be two showings, including a sensory-friendly performance.

Sybarite5 • April 8, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • This “string quartet with a bass” brings rockstar attitude to everything from Bowie to Radiohead, giving a new look to chamber music.

Ben Seidman • April 10, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Seidman, a UW-Eau Claire graduate, has made waves with his role on the Netflix Original: Brainchild, and wowed audiences of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.  After two Travel Channel specials, three seasons of Las Vegas performance, and designing illusions for Criss Angel, it’s time for a night at the Jamf Theatre.

Turtle Island with Cyrus Chestnut • April 23, 2020 • RCU Theatre • Infused with hints of gospel music’s global tones, the combination of Turtle Island Quartet with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut is remarkable, exciting, and uplifting.

Kaia String Quartet • May 13, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Chicago-based KAIA captures Latin American culture through strings.  Featuring works by Astor Piazolla, Jose Bragato, and Claudio Santoro, the flavor of Latin American music will fill the Jamf Theatre.

STOMP • March 20-21, 2020 • RCU Theatre • The international percussion sensation with decades of rave reviews on the books uses brooms, poles, garbage cans, lighters, and more to bring on the rhythm.

'Set List' Shows

Chris Kroeze • December 2019
Chris Kroeze • December 2019

Pablo’s lineup of contemporary music concerts ranges from local treasures to nationally known visitors – and homecomers.  New acts will be added throughout the season.

Mike Perry and the Long Beds • September 27, 2019 • Jamf Theatre
Lyle Lovett • October 15, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Trey Anastasio • October 21, 2019 • RCU Theatre
John Hiatt • October 4, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Postmodern Jukebox • October 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Pit Wagon / Laska / Ben Shaw • November 1, 2019 • Jamf Theatre
Them Coulee Boys • November 15, 2019 • Jamf Theatre
Chris Kroeze: Home For the Holiday • December 20-21, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn • February 7, 2020 • RCU Theatre
Jerrika Mighelle and Friends • February 21, 2020 • Jamf Theatre

Constituent Groups & Shows

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra
Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra

Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra
The CVJO Presents The Music Of Harry Connick, Jr. • October 18, 2019
Ignore The Forecast! With Andrew Neesley & Mel Flannery • December 7, 2019
CVJO’s 10th Anniversary Bash With Wayne Bergeron • February 22, 2020
The CVJO With Special Guest Roxy Coss • May 1, 2020

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra
Mendelssohn’s ‘Reformation’ Symphony • October 12, 2019
A Classical Christmas • December 14, 2019
The Young People’s Concert • February 1, 2020
Brahms in Spring • March 14, 2020
Happy Birthday, Beethoven! 250th Birthday Celebration • May 8, 2020

Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild
The Who’s Tommy • October 3-6, 2019
Legally Blonde the Musical • May 7-10, 2020
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical • June 25-28, 2020

Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra
An Afternoon with Bloch, Fauré and McCartney • September 29, 2019
Saturday Evening • November 16, 2019
Family and Friends • January 25, 2020
Lux: The Dawn from on High with the Master Singers • March 21, 2020
American Dreams • May 16, 2020

Volume One's True North • December 2019
Volume One's True North • December 2019

Eau Claire Children’s Theatre
Elf: The Musical • November 15-17, 2019
Disney’s Frozen Jr. • February 14-16, 2020
Mary Poppins • March 6-8, 2020
The Rainbow Fish • April 3-4, 2020
The Hunchback of Notre Dame • June 11-14, 2020
Newsies • July 23-26, 2020

Eau Claire Male Chorus
Associated Male Choruses of America (AMCofA) Big Sing, “LET THERE BE MUSIC” • April 17-18, 2020

Master Singers
America, My Home 2019: Carmina Pax • October 13, 2019

UW-Eau Claire
Faculty Recitals • September 6, 2019 / October 4, 2019 / November 1, 2019 / February 7, 2020 / March 6, 2020 / May 1, 2020
Wind Symphony/Symphony Band Concert • October 17, 2019
Company • October 18-20, 23-27, 2019
BluGold Marching Band Concert • November 7, 2019
Choral Showcase • November 10, 2019
Holiday Concert • December 8, 2019
James and the Giant Peach • March 6-8, 12-15, 2020
University Symphony Orchestra Concert • April 16, 2020
Eau Claire Jazz Fest • April 24-25, 2020
Confluence Dance Project • May 1- 2, 2020

Volume One
True North • December 19-21
2019 Great Big Hullabaloo • May 30, 2020


Tickets for the 2019-2020 season will be available for purchase to the public at www.pablocenter.org, or at the box office starting on Monday, July 29 at 10am.  Pablo Center members will be offered pre-sales on the following dates:

Director Circle – July 8, 2019
Designer Circle – July 10, 2019
Artist Circle – July 12, 2019
Partner – July 15, 2019
Advocate – July 18, 2019
Supporter – July 22, 2019

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Monday, Jun. 3rd, 2019

Bon Iver Drops New Music, Videos, and North American Tour Dates

Photo by Graham Tolbert & Crystal Quinn
Photo by Graham Tolbert & Crystal Quinn

The collective intake of breath you heard this morning came from Bon Iver fans around the globe gasping as the band (fronted, of course, by Eau Claire native Justin Vernon) dropped a pair of new songs along with music videos for each. If that weren’t enough, fans also got North American Tour dates for this Autumn, a new website (icommai.org, which appears to be down right now), and another kooky Justin Vernon promo shot (above).

From BonIver.org ...

Two new songs featuring contributions from Bruce Hornsby, Moses Sumney, Jenn Wasner, Elsa Jensen, Psymun, Phil Cook, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and others.

Hey, Ma

Stream Hey, Ma

U (Man Like)

Stream U (Man Like)

In the credits found in the video descriptions, you’ll notice a few other local names such as Brian Moen and Ben Lester, as well as former locals Phil and Brad Cook.

Tour Dates

And about those tour dates, they say ...

We are looking forward to bringing an exciting new production to our friends, new and old. Plus, the Bon Iver community is growing with the addition of Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes), who will join Justin Vernon, Sean Carey, Matthew McCaughan, Michael Lewis, and Andrew Fitzpatrick to form the Bon Iver live band. FeistIndigo GirlsSharon Van Etten, and Yo La Tengo will be supporting select dates.

“This project began as a single person, but throughout the last 11 years, the identity of Bon Iver has bloomed and can only be defined by the faces in the ever growing family we are.” - JV22

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Friday, May. 31st, 2019

Hope and Heart: Living Each Day to the Fullest With Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer

They say life is made of small moments, but just one moment can change your life forever. At 52, Michelle Messer of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was told she had an aggressive form of ovarian cancer — one of the deadliest cancers for women and for which there is no reliable test for early diagnosis.

When it was detected, her tumor was about the size of a pineapple.

“I remember sitting there thinking, now I know why my right hip hurts — because it’s my right ovary,” Michelle says. She also had experienced lower back pain and bloating. Suddenly, all the symptoms added up.

When she was diagnosed by Suzette Peltier, M.D., a gynecologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Michelle was already at stage 4, meaning the cancer had spread. It had moved throughout her abdominal cavity, liver, lungs and colon.

Michelle’s husband, Shaun, says the news was devastating.

“That was probably the most crushing thing I have ever felt in my life,” Shaun says.

Then the couple had to break the news to their two adult sons and young daughter.

“How do you tell a 13-year old her mother might not be here in a year or two?” Shaun says.

The couple’s daughter, Hannah, knew something was wrong when she came home from school and found her parents sitting on the couch.

“I told her I had cancer,” Michelle says. “She started crying and said: ‘No,’ and she fell to the ground. What can you do? The only thing you can do is hug them,” Michelle says.

No Time to Lose

After the tears and initial shock subsided, the entire family quickly moved into action mode. Within three days, Dr. Peltier arranged for Michelle to be seen by specialists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After rounds of tests, Francis Nichols, M.D., a thoracic surgeon, performed Michelle’s first surgery to remove cancer from her lungs.

It was a fearful time, but Michelle and her medical team remained positive. Dr. Nichols told her, “We’re going for the gold, and this is the Olympics.”

“Statements like that when you are so fearful are empowering,” Michelle says.

Two weeks later, while still recovering, Michelle underwent a nine-hour abdominal surgery, performed by Carrie Langstraat, M.D., a gynecological oncologist, which included a full hysterectomy. The tumor was removed, along with her gallbladder, part of her colon and dozens of lymph nodes.

Michelle underwent chemotherapy every week for nearly eight months at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, close to her home. It was grueling, she says. She lost her hair and energy, but she never lost hope. Michelle credits her medical team, along with many fierce, loyal friends and family who served as her support system, for helping her hold onto hope during this challenging time.

Michelle went into remission, though with stage 4, she knew she would never really be considered cured. Her hair grew back. Then one day, a year and a half after her initial diagnosis, she felt a lump on her neck. It was a recurrence of the ovarian cancer.

Fighting On

That meant more surgery and chemo, and losing her hair again. The treatment was even harder on Michelle’s body the second time, but hope persisted for Michelle and her oncology team. Michelle recalls a tough chemo day when Sandeep Basu, M.D., her oncologist, stopped in to see her.

“I smiled and said: ‘I’m faking it ‘till I make it,’” Michelle says. “He kind of cocked his head and said: ‘You’ve already made it.’” Michelle says Dr. Basu’s daily support was a huge source of hope.

Michelle says she is forever thankful for the support she received from Dr. Peltier the day she learned she had cancer. She recently had a chance to reconnect with Dr. Peltier — five years later — and tell her how important that moment was.

“It’s very humbling,” says Dr. Peltier, fighting back tears. “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see somebody five years out from stage 4 ovarian cancer.”

“I think Mayo Clinic has all the pieces,” Michelle says. “They have the heart. They have the intelligence. They have the professionalism. They’re efficient, but they also have that warmth — that humanness about them. I would highly recommend them. They saved my life.”

The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 3 at Half Moon Beach. More information is available at halfmoondragonboat.org.

This post was produced through a partnership
with Mayo Clinic Health System ... Learn more!

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The Most Wikipedia’ed Names in the Chippewa Valley? You’ll Never Guess. Except You Will.

So exactly who put this town on the map? A new online visualization project tries to answer that question with the help of data from Wikipedia. The People Map of the US, created by some data whizzes at The Pudding, replaces the names of cities across the U.S. of A. with the names of their most famous residents – or, to be more specific, the person connected to the town who is viewed most often on Wikipedia. The names are of people who were “born in, lived in, or connected to a place” – which explains why, for example, Barack Obama’s name pops up in both Chicago and Honolulu.

The trifecta of top names from the Chippewa Valley’s three largest cities shouldn’t be a surprise, if you’re steeped in local trivia. Consider that Eau Claire’s most Wikipedia’ed resident is indie musician Justin Vernon, known worldwide for his Grammy wins, Kanye collaborations, and hometown music festival.

Just upriver in Chippewa Falls the most-clicked name is that of supercomputing pioneer and hometown native Seymour Cray, namesake of Cray Inc., which recently made headlines for contracting with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the world’s fastest computer (and for being bought out by Hewlett Packard).

Menomonie’s most high-profile inhabitant is prolific English-born author Neil Gaiman, whose works include Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, American Gods, and Good Omens (the latter two of which have recently been turned into TV shows). Gaiman bought an old house outside Menomonie in 1992 to be close to his then-wife’s family. While he still owns the Menomonie home, these days he reportedly also resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So what other famous folks have their names enshrined in Wikipedia next to western Wisconsin burgs? Author Michael Perry will forever be tied to his hometown of New Auburn – a.k.a. “Nobbern” – though he now lives near Fall Creek. Augusta’s favorite son is late football coach Dan Devine, who led the Packers in the mid-1970s, while Mondovi’s is Tim Krumrie, who played 12 years with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Another athlete, pro golfer and two-time U.S. Open champ Andy North, is the most-searched name from Thorp.

A number of political figures pop up on the map, including former Congressman Steve Gunderson (Osseo), former Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (Chetek), and Greenwood native Mae Schunk, who served as Minnesota lieutenant governor under Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

Other notable locals include Fairchild-born Carole Landis, a 1940s film star; Stanley native Vincent Mroz, who saved President Harry Truman from a would-be assassin; and anti-war activist Ron Kovic, who was Born on the Fourth of July in Ladysmith.

Across the map of the Badger States, other names that pop out include some famous (Chris Farley in Madison, Mark Ruffalo in Kenosha) and a few infamous (Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee and Ed Gein in Plainfield).

If you’re interested in geography, pop culture, history, or just enjoy zooming in and out of a big map (wheee!), cruise over to The Pudding. And if you want to know about the project’s data and methods, here’s an explanatory blurb from the Pudding website:

Data for this story were collected and processed using the Wikipedia API. The period of collection was from July, 2015–May, 2019, from English Wikipedia. It was inspired in part by this map.

Person/city associations were based on the thousands of “People from X city” pages on Wikipedia. The top person from each city was determined by using median pageviews (with a minimum of 1 year of traffic). We chose to include multiple occurrences for a single person because there is both no way to determine which is more accurate and people can “be from” multiple places.

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Thursday, May. 30th, 2019

OXBEAUX III Lineup (w/ Jenny Lewis and The Shouting Matches) + Exclusive Shouting Matches Video


OXBEAUX – downtown Eau Claire’s annual summer street concert – returns for its third installment on Friday Aug. 9 and Saturday Aug. 10, expanding the lineup while adding another full night of live music to the mix.

Hosted by The Oxbow Hotel, OXBEAUX III will once again shut down a full block of Galloway Street to offer up headliners like Jenny Lewis and The Shouting Matches (featuring Justin Vernon, Phil Cook, and Brian + Jill Moen). That all happens on Saturday, while the Friday night performances will take place in the hotel's courtyard area and serve as a kind of local band showcase. Check out the full lineup:

FRIDAY in the Courtyard / Gates at 5pm

• Drunk Drivers
• Arms Aloft
• Pit Wagon
• North of Dixie Bluegrass Band

SATURDAY on the Street / Gates at 3pm

• Jenny Lewis 
• The Shouting Matches (featuring Justin Vernon, Phil Cook, and Brian + Jill Moen)
• Flock of Dimes (featuring Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak)
• Alpha Consumer
• Sniffle Party
• Sanborn/Rosenau (featuring Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso and Chris Rosenau of Volcano Choir)

TICKETS are $10 for Friday night only, $25 for Saturday only, or $30 for a weekend pass, and will be available here starting at 10am on Friday, June 14.

Expect beer, cocktails, sodas, and food. Gates open at 5pm on Friday with music at 6pm. Gates open at 3pm on Saturday with the show at 4pm. The Oxbow Hotel is at 516 Galloway Street, Eau Claire.

Volume One is a sponsor of OXBEAUX III.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Watch The Shouting Matches LIVE at OXBEAUX 2017

On Thursday, June 15, 2017 – on the eve of the 2017 Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival – The Oxbow Hotel in downtown Eau Claire shut down a city block to stage their first-ever OXBEAUX concert, headlined by the Shouting Matches, featuring Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Phil Cook, and Brian & Jill Moen. (Video by Anthony Casanova with camerawork from Joel Pearish and  Jon Hamblin)

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Tuesday, May. 14th, 2019

STORYLORDS: The Low-Budget Educational Sci-Fi Epic They Made at UW-Stout

Larry Laird as the evil Storylord Thorzuul, a caped, sunglasses-rocking villain, shown here in anguish. Image:
Actor Larry Laird as the evil Storylord Thorzuul, a caped, sunglasses-rocking villain, shown here in bitter anguish. (Image: Wisconsin Public Television Education)

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Public Radio took a deep dive into a public television show many of you have seen ... but perhaps only vaguely remember. Like all good epic adventures, PBS’s low-budget live-action educational show Storylords has passed into legend. But like Tolkien’s Ring of Power (“...it wants to be found...”) the show has emerged from the obscurity of random remembrances to the slightly less obscure realm of YouTube, where it’s been racking up tens of thousands of views, presumably from people who grew up with it. The short-lived show was no Sesame Street or Magic School Bus, but it was still memorable ... in its own quirky way.

Storylords consists of twelve 15-minute programs, produced in 1984 and aired in the ’80s and ’90s. It focuses on building reading comprehension strategies through the use of fantasy storylines where a brother and sister are drafted into a secret magical battle spilling over from a different planet. As is the case in all battles betwixt good and evil, excellent reading skills are required to thwart the bad guys.

What many people who remember the show – even Chippewa Vallians – don’t realize is that it was produced at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

The WPR piece does a fantastic job resurrecting the Storylords backstory, interviewing the show’s producers and, of course, the actors – such as  Tanya Tiffany who played the hero “Mandy.” And best of all, they talked with Larry Laird who played the show’s caped, sunglasses-rocking villain Thorzuul, who seeks to turn all those who can't understand what they read into stone statues.

Here’s what Storylords director and producer Ed Jakober told WPR about the production:

We had a local WPT production outlet here (in Menomonie). We were assigned most of the educational programming from ECB. That was based on whatever the need was in Wisconsin at the time. ... We spent two years on the program. The first year-and-a-half was spent on research, methodology, reading strategies and the educational process. Then, we hired writer Jed MacKay … He came up with the "Storylords" concept. 

We filmed around town, away from the studio ... Thorzuul's lair? OK let's go inside Mabel Tainter Theater or the library. We filmed at Menomonie East School — it still stands. All the kids would show up. We’d set up a wide shot in the classroom, then they'd go outside and play. After a while, we'd have them do lines. We'd do at least two (episodes) every day in the school.

As for the actors, all the extras we got from the UW-Stout theater department. The kids were just kids.

Listen to or read the story online: www.wpr.org/readers-rejoice-storylord-comes

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Friday, May. 3rd, 2019

Return of the Dragons: Annual Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is all about fighting cancer

Five years ago, a new invasive species swam into Half Moon Lake. Forty feet long with brightly colored scales, it was sleek and swift with bulging eyes, flared nostrils and a toothy grin. The dragons of the lake had arrived in the Chippewa Valley as part of the inaugural Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival.

Raising money for cancer programs

Sponsored and hosted by Mayo Clinic Health System, the event initially raised money for hospice programs. Fast forward to 2018, and the fundraising focus switched to cancer programs and continues with this focus at this year’s event on Saturday, Aug. 3.

“We know there is a significant need for local cancer support service funding,” explains Renelle Laffe from Hope in the Valley, which is a Chippewa Valley-based nonprofit cancer advocacy organization. “Bringing the community together to support this need in a fun, deeply meaningful way is both powerful and healing.”

The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is going strong as a joint partnership between Mayo Clinic Health System and Hope in the Valley. The mission and goals of this year’s event are to:

  • Fundraise for local cancer programs and services 

  • Educate on cancer prevention, research and healthy living 

  • Celebrate cancer survivors and those currently fighting the disease, and remember loved 
ones lost 

  • Provide a family-friendly event for the community to enjoy 

Half of the proceeds will benefit the Albert J. and Judith A. Dunlap Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, and half will benefit local cancer service organizations and charity care. The proceeds will be given in person on the Day of Giving Hope, which is Dec. 2. 

Why dragon boat racing? 

Equal parts sporting event and spectacle, dragon boat racing is a team sport that has its roots in ancient China. In the last 30 years, dragon boat racing has been revitalized and is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Each brightly colored dragon boat is propelled by a crew of 20 paddlers, a drummer and steer person working together as a team to finish the race. 

In addition to the excitement of watching and cheering for the dragon boats as they race to the finish line, the festival also includes music and a variety of tasty food vendors to enjoy. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is a high-energy, fun-filled day — proven by being voted the Best 
Sports/Recreation Event (non-run/walk) in Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll three years in a row.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out the hype and fun for yourself. Register a team to paddle, sign up to volunteer or attend as a spectator. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 3 at Half Moon Beach. More information is available at halfmoondragonboat.org.

This post was produced through a partnership
with Mayo Clinic Health System ... Learn more!

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Will UW-Eau Claire Grad Be the First First Gentleman?

Chasten Buttigieg (left) on the cover of TIME Magazine (May 13) with husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.
Chasten Buttigieg (left) on the cover of TIME Magazine (May 13) with husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.

America’s potential first first gentleman is a Blugold.

Chasten Buttigieg – husband of Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg (if you’re curious, it’s pronounced “Boot-edge-edge”) – graduated from UW-Eau Claire in December 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts. His husband, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been moving toward the top of a crowded field of candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination that includes well-known political veterans like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. But Pete Buttigieg has made a big splash in recent weeks, drawing attention both for his policy proposals and personal story: Harvard and Oxford graduate, Afghan War veteran, millennial mayor, and now the first prominent gay presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Chasten (that’s “Chas-Ten”), 29, has been right beside “Mayor Pete,” literally and figuratively, sharing the podium with him when he officially launched his candidate April 14 and posing with him for the cover of the latest issue of Time Magazine.

“Chasten’s humor and openness have been his defining features since the national spotlight found him and ‘Mayor Pete’ earlier this year,” Ellen McCarthy wrote in a recent Washington Post profile article. “It has made him a force on Twitter, where he has more than 300,000 followers, and a not-so-secret public-relations weapon for his husband.”

Chasten and Pete Buttigieg meeting former US President Jimmy Carter last year. (Image: Twitter)
Chasten and Pete Buttigieg meeting former US President Jimmy Carter last year. (Image: Twitter)

The former Chasten Glenzman grew up in a working-class family in Traverse City, Michigan. According to the Washington Post profile, he loved theater and struggled with his sexuality as an adolescent, at one point moving out of the house and sleeping in his car. He later reconciled with his parents. “Eventually, they would proudly walk him down the aisle at his wedding to another man,” the Post noted.

Chasten and Pete married in June 2018 at an Anglican Church in South Bend, Indiana. They had met in 2015 through a dating app. The previous year, Chasten had graduated from UW-Eau Claire, where he studied theatre arts and global studies. After graduation, he moved to Milwaukee, where he worked at a youth theater academy and at Starbucks. Later, according to the Indianapolis Star, he earned a master’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago before teaching at a Montessori school in South Bend.

These days, Chasten is spending his days on the campaign trail, literally and digitally. As Elle magazine noted in March, “Chasten Buttigieg’s Relentlessly Cheery Twitter Is the Best Thing to Come Out of the 2020 Election.” Chasten’s timeline is filled with pictures of the couple’s rescue dogs (Buddy and Truman), “Game of Thrones” memes, and musings about the bizarre side of political/Internet fame. A sample tweet: “This new exposure can be very weird, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to teenagers taking pictures of me and then running away giggling when I look up and see them pointing their phones at me. This is why I can no longer smell deodorants at Target. They’re always watching.”

However, as the Washington Post noted, “it’s a pressure-filled role, even for a former drama kid. ‘There’s so much more on the line than, “Man, I don’t want to forget a line and mess up the show,” ’ Chasten says. ‘It’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to say the wrong thing and ruin my husband’s political career.” ’ ”

In the coming 18 months, that pressure will undoubtedly mount, but that career could take the couple all the way to the White House.

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