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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Thursday, Mar. 24th, 2016

New Details Emerge for The Lakely, a New Eatery Coming to Oxbow Hotel

Like savory smells wafting in from a kitchen, details are emerging about the chef-driven restaurant and bar at The Oxbow Hotel, a space currently undergoing a massive remodel in downtown Eau Claire. Just announced this week, the public venue has been named The Lakely, and it will get cooking this summer inside the new boutique hotel formerly known as the Green Tree Inn, and before that the Edwards Hotel, at 516 Galloway Street.

The Lakely’s kitchen will be overseen by acclaimed chef Nathan Berg – former proprietor of Native Bay outside Chippewa Falls, who’s lately been hosting special event dinners and classes at Forage, a flexible kitchen and dining space at Banbury Place. Berg’s previous culinary efforts have been highly praised in publications including Relish MagazineStar Tribune, Capital Times, Minnesota Monthly, Chef Magazine, and more.

The Lakely will be a showcase of local talent, local ingredients, and local culture: Berg wants diners to experience a uniquely Upper Midwestern cuisine. You might expect high quality Wisco staples like beef and cheese, but also think wild rice, cranberries, maple syrup, even venison. “To me that means this amalgamation of the foods of the Native American people … but also some of the heritage that comes from our area, whether it be big Scandinavian, German and Polish populations,” he said.

Because the restaurant won’t open until later in the summer, the menu is still in development, but diners can expect a Midwest modern take on classic comfort foods, freshwater fish, and seasonal sandwiches. The menu will also be full of the hallmarks of Berg’s past efforts: locally sourced produce, meats, cheeses, and more from the farms and forests around us. At Native Bay, he explained, he would often find himself reprinting menus on the fly just before the dinner hour because a farmer had just delivered a particularly inspiring ingredient. Likewise, The Lakely will feature a small but flexible menu that will include creative spins on dishes familiar to Midwesterners. “It keeps things fresh and a little bit different,” Berg said. “The more adventurous diners can come in and get something new every time.”

Chef Nathan Berg
Left: Chef Nathan Berg / Right: A top-secret offering under development.

The Lakely will also feature a bar serving up specially designed craft cocktails and Wisconsin craft beers, plus a signature stage designed by Eaux Claires Festival creative director Michael Brown that will feature live jazz, vinyl theme nights, and more. Outside, seating nearly doubles with a courtyard patio with tables, couches, a pair of fire pits and a grassy area for kubb and other lawn games.

Overall, Berg’s goal is nothing less than fostering “a style of cuisine that represents the Upper Midwest for all its biological, environmental, and cultural diversity.” More and more American cities are developing their own independent dining scenes, a trend that Berg believes the Chippewa Valley may finally be emulating. “Speaking as a diner and not just as a chef, I’d love to have more diverse options when I go out,” he said, explaining there is room at the table for multiple new restaurants. “There are a lot more adventurous diners out here than the market is currently reflecting.” 

Follow progress for The Oxbow Hotel and The Lakely
on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Full disclosure: The Oxbow’s ownership group includes Volume One publisher Nick Meyer.

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Wednesday, Mar. 23rd, 2016

Chippewa Valley Writers Guild Interviews Volume One's Nick Meyer

For their March newsletter, the Chippewa Valley Writer's Guild interviewed Volume One owner/publisher Nick Meyer on the occasion of our recently released 300th issue. Guild organizer BJ Hollars talked to Meyer about how the magazine started and how it rolled on to what we see today. You can read a short article and listen to the interview on the Guild's monthly podcast. Here's a snippet ...

   Though I’ve long heard rumor of Volume One’s origin story, I’ve never heard it directly from Nick.  However, given the abundance of birthdays in that basement, it only seems natural to harken back to the old days.

   “What was [Volume One] initially supposed to be like for you?” I ask.

   “The whole reason it started—my personal story for it—was there was a band called the Buddyrevelles, who I thought was the greatest band in the world.”   

   Nick discovered the local band while attending a show on the UWEC campus in the fall of 1998 ...

Read and listen to the rest of the interview!

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What You Should Know About Eau Claire's New Food Truck Rules

Eau Claire’s eaters can expect to see more food trucks on city streets in the near future. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to greatly expand where food trucks can serve up curbside consumables in the city. Under the new ordinance, licensed food trucks will be able to operate on most city streets and in certain parks.

Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle lauded the ordinance, saying it is another step toward improving the quality of life in the city. “I am thrilled that our city is taking up a food truck policy,” she told council members before the vote. “I think that this policy is making small business ownership more accessible to people. This will help people who don’t have the capital to start out in bricks and mortar.”

Under the new ordinance, food trucks will be allowed to operate between the hours of 8am and 11pm as long as they follow certain rules, including staying out of residential neighborhoods, keeping 200 feet away from restaurants, obeying parking and traffic laws, and remaining in one place no longer than four hours at a time. In addition, food trucks will be allowed in Owen, Phoenix, Carson, Riverview, Soccer, and Pinehurst parks, although they won’t be allowed in these parks – or within 500 feet of them – if the parks are hosting special events.

As originally written, the ordinance would have allowed trucks to serve patrons until 2am in the Water Street area. However, that provision was removed Tuesday after some residents told the council at a hearing Monday that such extended hours would aggravate problems with late-night drunkenness in the Historic Randall Park Neighborhood. 

Eau Claire is already home to a handful of food trucks, which have been allowed to operate on private property, at festivals, and – since last summer – in a handful of parks on a trial basis. Expect to see these trucks (and probably more like them) serving up savory street food soon on a street near you.

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Tuesday, Mar. 22nd, 2016

The Tallest Man On Earth to Play The State Theatre

AW HE AIN’T THAT TALL. Kristian Mattson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth, brought a full band to last year’s Eaux Claires festival, which includes local musicians Ben Lester (Aero Flynn), Mike Noyce (Bon Iver), and Zach Hanson (S. Carey). Photo credit: Lee Butterworth
AW HE AIN’T THAT TALL. Kristian Mattson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth, brought a full band to last year’s Eaux Claires festival, which includes local musicians Ben Lester (Aero Flynn), Mike Noyce (Bon Iver), and Zach Hanson (S. Carey). Photo credit: Lee Butterworth

The Eau Claire Regional Arts Center announced this week that Swedish-born indie folk artist The Tallest Man On Earth will play The State Theatre on July 16.

Kristian Mattson’s once-sparse solo folk project has now bloomed into a full band experience with help of some notable local cats such as Ben Lester (Aero Flynn), Zach Hanson (S. Carey) and Mike Noyce (Bon Iver). The Tallest Man On Earth’s latest record, Dark Bird Is Home (recorded at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Fall Creek) was a departure from his early lo-fi pluckings and scratchy recordings. Now bolstered with a full band on his rigorous touring schedule, the songs hit harder while maintaining the same emotional resonance and deft songwriting – not to mention Mattson’s distinct, stark, gravelly voice still acts as a strong anchor in these new tracks.

Tickets for the show go on sale on March 23 for ECRAC members and March 25 for the general public. They’re $30 in advance and $32 at the door, and they’re limited to just four tickets per person. To learn more, visit www.eauclairearts.com.

Watch a gorgeous short film about the making of Dark Bird Is Home, directed by Dan Huiting and Lauren Josephine:

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