Volume One Contributors

writers, photographers, artists

Mike Paulus

author

Content By This Contributor:

Food & Wine Magazine Runs Deep Profile on Eau Claire

Mike Paulus

Food & Wine (a nationally syndicated, monthly magazine founded in 1978) published a remarkable profile of Eau Claire's restaurant scene on October 29. The magazine – which is well-known for featuring taste-making recipes ...

Halloween Dreams

if you’re gonna scare, you might as well scare big

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Michelle Roberts

Let’s hear it for the good people of the Chippewa Valley going all out on Halloween decorations. I raise my cauldron of foggy potion to you, good sirs and madams, for you are out there frighting the good fright ...

Autumn’s Up

It’s a pumpkin spice world. We’re just living in it.

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

Yes, I agree with you. There are far too many pumpkin spice-flavored novelty food items in our grocery stores, many of which barely make sense. Pumpkin spice coffee? That’s expected. Pumpkin spice breakfast cereal? Fine. Pumpkin spice Triscuit crackers?

The Stars Grow Brighter

you’ll see things changing if you bother to look up

Mike Paulus

The stars grow brighter. Standing here in Wisconsin on this half of the planet, the part we (for no good reason) call the top, the stars are getting easier to see. But it’s just beginning ...

Playing La Cucaracha

piano keys and grade school are hard to navigate

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

One time in grade school I was on the playground attempting to play basketball with my buddies when a younger kid named Benny walked up to me and said, “So, Mr. Paulus. I hear you play the piano.”

Tractors and Pinstriped Overalls

thinking about the things my grandfather did

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Mackenzie Slattery

My grandpa on my Mom’s side fixed up old tractors until cancer took him away. That was almost 20 years ago. He and my grandma lived in a Wisconsin farmhouse on a road bearing their name ...

Hair Naked

revealing tales of fantastic follicles

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Mackenzie Slattery

y earliest hair-related memories (besides seeing my Dad with his shirt off) involve my mom shuffling me off to her salon in Eau Claire. She’d have one of the ladies cut my hair as I entertained the entire shop with my unbearably ...

Going the Distance

my idea of competition doesn’t involve a whole lot of running

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

Competition is not my strong suit. Sure, I like to win things. Board games. Scavenger hunts. Million-dollar lotteries, things like that. But contests involving the phrase “high stakes” do not fire me up. They never have. And here’s an example ...

Cart to Cart

how to win friends and influence pretzel nuggets

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

You know what I just love? Being all friendly like. I love running into friends and neighbors and chatting it up. I love catching up and reconnecting and staying in touch and sharing precious ...

PHOTOS: Eaux Claires Fans at Peak Eaux Claires

Mike Paulus, photos by Luong Huynh, Lee Butterworth

We've taken many a photograph at past Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festivals, as all kinds of fantastic people converge upon the Chippewa Valley from around the world. Enjoy a handful of music fans who seem extra-at-home at Eaux Claires ...

Sun Amok: Summer’s fun and all, but it’s not your friend

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I’m not sure why you all like summer so much. Because I’m pretty sure summer doesn’t like you. At least, not as much as you think it does. Especially the Sun. That big blazing ball of brightness ...

List Connections

putting the stress in summertime fun

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Erik Christenson

Each summer, my kids make a list of all the Super Summertime Fun Stuff they’d like to do after school lets out. I’m sure you’ve seen, heard of, or perhaps made a list like this at some point in your life ...

A Sporty Retorty

I’ve never gotten along with sports, and perhaps I never will

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

This is a story I love to tell. I end up telling it all the time. At the bar. At parties and get-togethers. In the car and at family gatherings. In awkward conversations with people I hardly know while waiting ...

Local Lounge Closes, Sports Bar on the Way

Mike Paulus

Today, after two and a half years in business, The Local Lounge – a bar, restaurant, and event venue on Eau Claire's westside – has closed ...

A Span Down by the River

navigating some of Eau Claire’s very best bridges

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Here’s an exciting, engaging question that’s totally not boring: What’s your favorite local bridge?

6 Horrible Ways to Park Your Car

honking a metaphorical horn at all you awful parkers

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Beth Czech

It will surprise you to learn there are things at which I am slightly below average. For instance? Frisbee golf. I am not so good at that. Waterskiing? Just awful. C++ computer programming? Laughable. Freestyle rap battling? Don’t get me started ...

It’s a Yard Knock Life

as spring arrives, frozen shame begins to thaw

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

Huzzah. Spring is all but here. The snow will soon be gone. And like most of you, I long for warmer weather. I can’t wait to slip on my very masculine sandals, and the prospect of busting ...

Dry and Mighty: What happens when the good things break?

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The YouTube videos failed me. I watched so many, followed all the helpful instructions, and tried all the hot tips. With a screwdriver in one hand and my smartphone in the other, I clawed and crawled well beyond my comfort zone ...

Childhood Memories Across Thin Ice

Mike Paulus

March is usually the time of year we stop complaining about the snow and cold so we can free up more time to complain about how dirty the snow has gotten and how wet the cold air is feeling. It’s a time-honored ...

Surface Tension

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

As soon as he drilled the holes something felt wrong. When we shuffled between them, water would blurble up through the openings and spread out over the ice, forming deep puddles ...

I Hate My Stupid Whatever

if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, try constantly complaining

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Beth Czech

Here’s my promise to you: I won’t waste a single paragraph’s worth of well-crafted sentences complaining about the weather. It’s the least I can do for all you people out there who don’t give a damn about some random guy’s opinion on that we cannot control ...

The Best of Me (2018)

this year’s Best of the Mike Paulus Poll was a doozie

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

The votes are in, the polls are slammed shut, and the tallies have been tilly-tallied. So it’s with great pleasure and excitement that I present to you the results of my 2018 Best of the Mike Paulus Poll wherein I polled only myself. Strenuously. What follows ...

Build Funky Little Stories With Toca Life Apps

Mike Paulus

I’m pretty sure my kids have been playing Toca Boca apps almost as long as we’ve had a tablet in the house. The company seems to kick out hundreds of different little games each year – fun, smart, and endlessly ...

Why the Hell Would I Drive to Chippewa?

maybe it’s time you explored the rest of the Valley

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

The other day I was trying to figure out what you call someone from Chippewa Falls. I settled on “Chippewa Fallsian.” Sure, it sounds like a rebel assassin from Star Wars, but I think it works. We’ve been ...

Blinking at the Dashboard

it’s cold outside and that makes all the difference

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I sit here blinking at the dashboard because I can’t believe my engine started. It’s something to smile about. On a Friday morning while the sky is dark and the temperature is 16 degrees below zero and ...

When Push Comes to Shovel

this winter, I bid adieu to my favorite inanimate friend

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I never gave it a name. And the name of a thing is so very important. It was just always there, hanging in the garage, year after year, patiently waiting in reverse hibernation for winter to come. It came alive in cold weather. It lived for the snow ...

Snowing Is Half the Battle

living with the threat of a crusty Brown Christmas

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Brown Christmas. It’s the absolute worst. Sure, there are far more important things about which we can complain, or even try to fix, but no snow in late December? It just doesn’t feel right ...

An A Christmas Story Story

don't shoot your eye out with this holiday classic

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It’s the very end of November, so have you watched A Christmas Story yet? No? Did you hear that it’s the very end of November? You better get on that. Make some popcorn. Call some friends. Make a ho-ho-holiday night of it. I’ll pass ...

Dark Fields

when we used to shine a beam into the night

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

We used to see 40 of them, sometimes more, out in the fields under the deep, starless sky. My shoulder aching, my fingers freezing, I leaned out the truck window and held the spotlight as high as I could. Every year ...

Booked on a Feeling

an ode to local libraries and the people who love them

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It smelled weird, I can tell you that. Today the Internet has labeled this particular odor “old book smell,” and book lovers love it. But when I was young, it was just weird. ...

Fearful Thinking

a small collection of scary thoughts

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

I used to imagine people picking up the brooms my mother left behind at every house in which we had ever lived, maybe wondering why they were there, leaning up against a counter or standing silent in the closet ...

Store Is Hell

lessons learned from grocery adventures

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It has come to my attention that many of my most vivid childhood memories happened in a grocery store. Grocery stores just seem to hold a special significance in my life. Is that weird?

Shanghai: The Return

owner of local favorite Shanghai Bistro wants to reopen

Mike Paulus, photos by Thresa Zvolena

According to Shanghai Bistro owner Henry Chan, “When Shanghai opened in 2004 sushi was not mainstream. Sushi was very new and exotic in Eau Claire. As Eau Claire’s first sushi bar, we talked ...

UPDATED: Shanghai Bistro to Reopen?

Mike Paulus, photos by Andrea Paulseth

If Shanghai Bistro's Facebook page is to be believed, the beloved Eau Claire sushi and asian eatery (which closed last year) will ...

Autumn is a Time to Grow Strong

Mike Paulus, photos by Andrea Paulseth

One October night a few a years ago, after weeks of spooky storybooks and scary Halloween movies, my son asked me if monsters were a real thing. I said, “Well, I’ve never seen one. What do you think?”

It's Coming in the Air

when everything is about the change

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The forest smells different today. It smells like it’s dying. Because it’s beginning to die. The grass is dried out and it’s giving up, turning yellow, fading away. Right now it’s warm under the sun, but tonight the stars and clouds will creep across the sky, pushing a chill across the cornfields ...

Turning Leaves & Pages: Autumn-y Writing Prompts

Mike Paulus

The hardest part about writing is usually getting started. That’s why writing prompts are a great tool for scribes of any age – they take away the pressure of conjuring up a beginning.

WATCH: Chippewa Valley Restaurant Week on the News

Mike Paulus

We're officially launching Chippewa Valley Restaurant Week today (Sept. 14) after last night's fantastic kickoff event in Eau Claire's Banbury Place (check out photos). Up above you can watch ...

Sod Goals

just one more reason autumn makes me happy

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I spent seven summers working for a local landscape and excavation company. They start you out laying sod. My first day on the job, I walked up to my boss – standing there in his work boots ...

Five Guys to Open in Oakwood Mall?

Mike Paulus

In a Facebook post yesterday, Eau Claire's Oakwood Mall announced that popular burger and fries restaurant chain Five Guys would ...

CityLab Profiles Eau Claire

Mike Paulus, photos by Andrea Paulseth

City Lab is a big deal. An offshoot of The Atlantic – yes, that Atlantic – the online publication is "committed to telling the story of the world’s cities: how they work, the challenges they face, and the solutions they need." So when they write about Eau Claire, as they did today ...

About August

a quick look at summer’s final third

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

I’ve been seeing them all summer long. Each morning, I get up and stumble into the kitchen to grab a glass of water at the kitchen sink. I look out the window ...

On the Hook

the adventure of fake fishing in a church parking lot

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

It may surprise many of you to learn that I attended local Catholic schools from kindergarten all the way through my senior year of high school. Or maybe that doesn’t surprise you, maybe that makes ...

Heat Lightning

staring at the horizon all summer long

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The heat lightning was sorcery to us. Some kind of rare devilry quietly bursting across the midnight horizon, raving over the dark, distant pine trees. It just didn’t stop. Hundreds of electric blossoms, pink and white, flaring up inside a mountain of clouds ...

Bright Ideas: Fun Writing Prompts for Summer

Mike Paulus

The hardest part about writing is usually getting started. That’s why writing prompts are a great tool for scribes of any age – they take away the pressure of conjuring up an amazing idea. It’s like a simple game to play: No judgment on how it turns out because it’s just for fun. Check out some prompts below to get the writers in your life scribbling away ...

Beyond the Rocket

let us not forget that other notable slide o’ yore

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Yes, of course I liked The Rocket Slide. It was my everything. And by “it was my everything” I mean “whenever my mom took me to Carson Park between the ages of maybe 5 and 8, maybe five or six times each year ...