Subscribe to CNC Huffpo feed
Chicago news and blog articles from The Huffington Post
Updated: 1 hour 38 min ago

'Key & Peele' Give Us Even More Ridiculous Football Player Names In Super Bowl Special

Wed, 2015-01-28 15:20
Nice to meet you, Grunky Peep, from Georgia Southern University.

College and professional sports are usually fertile ground for player names that border on the bizarre. And no one spins this trend better than "Key & Peele." TheirEast/West College Bowl introduction parodies have introduced us to college superstars like Hingle McCringleberry, Jackmerius Tacktheratrix and the player fomerly known as Mousecop.

Now we have even more names to crack up over in this clip from their upcoming Super Bowl Special. But be careful now, there are some real players thrown into the mix too. They might have unreal names, but the have very real feelings.

The "Key & Peele Super Bowl Special" premieres January 30 at 10:00 p.m./9:00 CT on Comedy Central.

Now That Starbucks Delivers, You Don't Have To Leave The Office. EVER.

Wed, 2015-01-28 13:22
Soon it will all be intravenous.

As you're all aware, the best part of leaving the office to get coffee ... is LEAVING THE OFFICE to get coffee. But now that Starbucks delivers, your higher-ups might be under the impression that you'll never have to leave the office ever again.

UCB group Pocketwatch shows us in their latest video "Starbucks For Delivery" that work efficiency should only be taken so far. And no amount of cake pops or salted caramel sugar drink can stave off the workplace insanity that results being in an office all day long.

Okay, maybe some amount of cake pops.

How Can Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Maintain His Outsider Status While on the Inside?

Wed, 2015-01-28 12:14
Illinoisans elected Gov. Bruce Rauner in large part because he offered new ideas for the state government. Voters chose an outsider who promised to fix insider culture.

In the 1970s, Pat Quinn made a name for himself as an outside agitator to state politics. He led an initiative to pass the "cutback amendment" in 1980 to punish lawmakers for voting themselves a 40 percent pay raise. As part of that protest, Quinn encouraged citizens to send tea bags to Gov. Jim Thompson. He was a tea party guy before there was a Tea Party.

Yet as Quinn left office, he handed out jobs and appointments in a style that smacked of insider-ism. His administration in its final year got into a patronage hiring scandal that was the epitome of insider manipulation.

Rauner can learn a lot from his predecessor. We suspect he'll be learning soon that it's hard to remain an outsider when you hold the state's highest office.

Meanwhile, the Illinois State Board of Education, now run by Rauner's chairman-designate, Rev. James Meeks, may have handed Rauner a lesson in campaign promises when it asked for a $730 million increase in its funding.

So many challenges and so much to learn. That's what we're talking about on this week's "Only in Illinois." Watch the video at Reboot Illinois.

There are also a few outsiders trying to push back against insiders in the Chicago mayoral race. Candidates Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Bob Fioretti, businessman Willie Wilson, former gubernatorial candidate William "Dock" Walls and Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia met at the Chicago Tribune for a debate Jan. 27. We've got a rundown of the topics discussed and the disagreements that flew, including TIF money, schools and food deserts.

NEXT ARTICLE: How much did Bruce Rauner spend on TV advertising in the 2014 election?

Seattle Seahawks Must Do These 3 Things To Win The Super Bowl

Wed, 2015-01-28 11:52
Thanks to a certain ongoing controversy, the actual, you know, football-playing aspect of Super Bowl XLIX has received a bit less attention than it deserves. But with the big game just four days away, now seems like a good time to review a few key points Seattle ought to keep in mind.


Marshawn Lynch is the heartbeat of this offense. He will bail out the offense at some point on Sunday, whether it's in the running game or the screen game. Oddly enough, the one thing Seattle was unable to do last year amid its 43-8 Super Bowl rout of Denver was to establish Lynch. The NFL's leading rusher over the past three seasons went for just 39 yards on 15 carries. Meanwhile, the current version of New England has revamped its defense, and it starts up front with a healthy Vince Wilfork.

If you go back to the four Seahawk losses this season, a common theme is Lynch not having a normal game. In fact, looking at those four matches, he rushed for a pedestrian average of 68.5 yards per game on a measly 58 carries. That's hardly proven a successful strategy for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. If Lynch isn't established early on in the game, he doesn't have a chance to wear down the defense. During Seattle's recent NFC championship game against Green Bay, which ended in a miraculous Seahawks victory, it should be noted that on the first 11 read-option plays called, Wilson kept the ball every single time. The first time he handed it off to Lynch, the result was the go-ahead touchdown.


The winning formula for beating New England has always been: Take one Tom Brady, apply constant pressure. The tricky part is doing it without bringing a blitz, because very few quarterbacks are better at beating one. With Michael Bennett and Chris Avril, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn often doesn't have to blitz, because both are apt at applying the necessary pressure.

Unlike Russell Wilson, Brady will mostly stay within the pocket. A clean pocket -- which he had when playing against both Baltimore and Indianapolis -- means clear throwing lanes for one of the game's all-time most accurate quarterbacks. Seattle's secondary gets most of the headlines, but its defensive line has two terrific speed rushers in Avril (14 sacks and six forced fumbles in two years as a Seahawk) and Bennett (15.5 sacks in two years with Seattle), who rush on opposite sides. Neither guy is situational -- meaning each will be on the field for most of the game -- and they are each capable of taking control of a game. Brady knows this and will employ max protection when necessary, but if either Avril or Bennett has a strong showing, the Seahawks' vaunted linebacking core and secondary will feast.


If Russell Wilson is even remotely within striking distance late in a game, he becomes lethal. His most recent antics versus Green Bay are proof enough of that. Ultimately, it seems like Wilson just doesn't care how poorly he has played -- he wants the ball when it matters the most, and more often than not, he delivers. The 25-year-old has the most fourth-quarter comebacks (10) and game-winning drives (15) through a quarterback's first three seasons in NFL history, not to mention the most wins. If Seattle defeats New England, Wilson will be the youngest player ever to win multiple Super Bowls. So yeah, you get the idea.

Wilson is sometimes criticized, perhaps unfairly, for leaning on an elite defense to bail him out. He has been called a "game manager," which is ludicrous when you consider both his stats and his clutch gene. But no matter what labels he gets plastered with, Wilson relishes the pressure moments, a la Brady, and excels in them as well. The Seahawks know this. They revel in it. And, maybe most importantly, they play to it.

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure to catch my NBC Sports Radio show "Kup and Schultz," which airs Sunday mornings from 9 to 12 EST, right here.

These Photos Capture The Little-Known Beauty Of Lake Michigan In Winter

Wed, 2015-01-28 10:33
In the height of winter, most people would be hesitant to spend the day at the beach. But nature lovers willing to brave the bitter cold and blustery winds might be rewarded with one-of-a-kind sights.

That’s what photographer Ken Scott has found in his constant explorations of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Though he has been shooting the scenery of Leelanau County in northern Michigan for three decades, he captured some of his most spectacular images during the height of last winter’s polar vortex, published in 2014 in the book Ice Caves of Leelanau.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

The Great Lakes region was hit with some of the lowest temperatures in history last winter, and Lake Michigan came closer to freezing over entirely than any year on record. But thousands of people flocked to the beach to check out something few had seen: huge hollowed out caves in the ice, worn by the waves.

Scott was one of them. Photographing the caves and other unique forms, he found drama and beauty in the close-up details of icicles or wide panoramas of the sun setting over an icy plain.

“The shoreline in the wintertime is the most dramatic,” Scott told The Huffington Post. “It’s always changing, you never know, it’s always going to be different.”

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Scott’s documentation of the ice caves last year on Facebook drew likes, attention and, eventually, the book deal. In Ice Caves of Leelanau, he shows numerous views of the caves, blue ice, volcano ice, pancake ice, the large sheet of anchor ice along the shore, and the rounded and smoothed chunks of ice known as ice balls. Meteorologist Ernie Ostuno captioned Scott’s photographs for the book, and nature writer Jerry Dennis introduced them:

The caves were the surprising thing. Many of us had seen similar structures during other winters, but never many of them, and never this large. These were big enough to stand in -- for a dozen people to stand in -- and as elaborate as caves in limestone. They were domes and keyholes and grottos. Wave spray and intermittent thawing and freezing had embellished them with columns and pillars. Their surfaces were so smooth they gleamed in sunlight, and from their ceilings dripped hundreds of daggers of clear ice, like crystal stalactites.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

George Leshkevich, a researcher with the North American Ocean Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, noted that last winter was particularly severe for the Great Lakes, resulting in unique conditions where ice reached peak thickness two separate times in the season.

Different kinds of ice formations occur because of a confluence of reasons, Leshkevich explained, including meteorological conditions, the physical location and wave action, so they’re hard to predict and will vary widely along the shore.

Though the ice caves were not a phenomenon unique to last year, it’s only rarely that anchor ice builds up enough for explorers to venture out to see the caves for themselves (an activity that carries risk, as it's hard to judge the thickness of ice and whether it can hold weight). But Scott also shot ice caves back in 2003, and with 30 years of daily shooting in the same wilderness in northern Michigan, it might seem like he’d eventually find the scenery repetitive. He doesn't.

“My creative eye is always on. It doesn’t get bored,” Scott said. “A lot of people get stuck on seeing things only one way, like the wide view or closeup view … but there’s everything in between. Boredom would come when you’re getting stuck in seeing things only one way. You just have to shift it a little bit and it a open up a whole other world.”

Below, see more photographs from Ice Caves of Leelanau. Books and prints are available on Ken Scott’s website, and his recent work can be found on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

Courtesy Ken Scott Photography.

5 Things You Didn't Know About The New England Patriots

Wed, 2015-01-28 10:04
Having been around since 1960, the Patriots are among the oldest teams in the NFL. In that half century, Pat Patriot and the team have certainly created many memorable moments, but there are a few little known stories worth noting.

Although you may have already known that the Patriots are going to win their fourth Super Bowl this Sunday, here are a few bits of trivia you've yet to learn:

1. The team was shortly called the Bay State Patriots. This had to change because of the unintended abbreviation, BS Patriots.

The Boston Patriots were the eighth team added to the AFL, keeping the original name until 1971. But owner Billy Sullivan became upset that Boston wasn't allowing him to build a stadium in the downtown area, so he snubbed the city and moved to Foxboro. With the location change came a name change and the Patriots adopted the "Bay State Patriots" moniker. This didn't go over well.

An AP story from 1971 entitled "Bay State or Boston? Even Patriots Unsure" explains:

The club's board of directors voted a change from Boston to Bay State last week, recognizing the fact the team is scheduled to play home games this year in a 62,000-seat stadium under construction in Foxboro, about 20 miles south of Boston. The "Bay State" tag hasn't proved too popular, and some Boston sports writers refuse to call the team by anything but "Patriots."

And an article from Time points out that part of the hatred for the new name was because the abbreviation "B.S. Patriots" was obviously no good. The team name was quickly changed to the New England Patriots.

2. George R.R. Martin wrote the New England Patriots into Game of Thrones.

Unfortunately, they're not given the best treatment. George R.R. Martin isn't too fond of the team, saying to Sports Illustrated that the Patriots are the NFL's Lannisters.

Talking on a Sports Illustrated podcast in 2013, Martin furthered this earlier claim describing Bill Belichick as "Evil Little Bill." He said, "In some ways he might be worse than a Lannister. Maybe he's a Greyjoy."

In A Dance with Dragons there's passage that has been determined to be about the Patriots 2007 undefeated season where they eventually lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. From the book:

The galley was also where the ship's books were kept ... the fourth and final volume of The Life of the Triarch Belicho, a famous Volantene patriot whose unbroken succession of conquests and triumphs ended rather abruptly when he was eaten by giants.

In the previously mentioned Sports Illustrated interview, Martin claimed "the Starks are heroes, so they would be the Giants." You can read more about Martin's NFL fandom on his blog, titled "Not a Blog".

3. Bill Belichick once gave Larry Izzo a game ball for secretly going "number two" on the sidelines during a game.

In 2012, Wes Welker confirmed a rumor on ESPN's "Highly Questionable" that Larry Izzo had gone "number two" during a game. Welker even progressed the story further claiming Izzo probably sees it as one of his greatest accomplishments:

Larry would be so mad at me if I said that this didn't happen, because he takes ultimate pride in this whole deal. Of all the special teams tackles and Pro Bowls he's made, I guarantee you that game ball is probably a more prized item for him than his Super Bowl rings.

Izzo was named special teams captain for the New England Patriots eight times.

4. Vladimir Putin apparently stole one of Robert Kraft's Super Bowl rings, almost causing an international incident.

Vladimir Putin initially acquired the Super Bowl XXXIX ring during a meeting with various businessmen, including Robert Kraft, and at the time it was said to be a gift. However in 2013, as reported by the New York Post, Kraft gave a speech where he admitted that Putin had actually stolen the ring. Kraft said, "I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring.' I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."

The George W. Bush White House had called Kraft at the time to persuade him to not make an international incident out of the theft. Kraft explained in his speech, a White House representative told him, "It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present." Kraft continued the story:

I really didn't [want to]. I had an emotional tie to the ring, it has my name on it. I don't want to see it on eBay. There was a pause on the other end of the line, and the voice repeated, "It would really be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present."

The Kremlin has denied the ring was stolen.

5. The iconic Pat Patriot was originally drawn in just 45 minutes.

Phil Bissell was working as a Boston Globe cartoonist when the Patriots first received their name. A Globe editor asked Bissell to illustrate a potential logo and in 45 minutes, Bissell had Pat Patriot. The team loved the drawing so much that they paid Bissell and took the logo as their own. Over the years slight variations have been made to Pat, such as the more fierce eyes that are recognizable today, but more or less the logo has survived since that first assignment.

In a profile with USA Today, Bissell said, "Pat is just a living legend. People just like Pat. They seem to know this guy is getting down to business. He's going to give it all."

In late 2014, Bissell published a book called PatsPa! about his cartoons over the years, focusing on his various drawings of Pat Patriot over the years for the team.

Image: New England Patriots official website

BONUS: Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round as a fourth-string QB, but when he first met Robert Kraft this is what Brady said:

"I'm the best decision this organization has ever made."

Giving a speech at Gillette Stadium in 2012, Robert Kraft told the story of the first time he met Tom Brady.

Brady was only 22, but, according to Kraft, his trademark confidence was already quite apparent:

I still have the image of Tom Brady coming down the old Foxboro stadium steps with that pizza box under his arm, a skinny beanpole, and when he introduced himself to me and said, "Hi Mr. Kraft," he was about to say who he was, but I said, "I know who you are, you’re Tom Brady. You’re our sixth round draft choice." And he looked me in the eye and said, "I’m the best decision this organization has ever made." It looks like he could be right.

Now it's time to take that confidence and do this again.

All images Getty unless otherwise noted.

The 21 Best Diners in America

Wed, 2015-01-28 09:55
By: Kevin Alexander and Liz Childers

A quality diner is like a minor league utility player: always ready in an emergency, does a few things well, and tends to have long experience spending time in weird, little towns. Our search to find these places took us all over the country, from the oldest diner in Maine to an updated classic in Raleigh and a famous writer's haunt in New Mexico. We ate pie, drank milkshakes, and confusedly stared at birch beer for a while. But we also enjoyed some of the best food and the cheapest prices in the country. Then we ate more pie.

So, check out our 21 favorite diners in the country, and let us know what we missed in the comments, using your polite Internet voice. The free refills are on us:

More: Power-Ranking the Greatest Movie Diners

Credit: Flickr/Jun Seita

The Blue Benn

Bennington, VT
The Blue Benn -- a diner that glows azure from its stools to its trim -- was shipped from Jersey to Bennington and assembled on its current spot in 1948 and, since, very little has changed. Besides an entryway that's extremely necessary to cover the throngs of hopeful, waiting diners in the Vermont weather, the diner is that original car -- kitchen and all. Normally, I'd say to sit at the diner counter, but, here, fight for a booth with its wall-mounted jukebox (the counters have them, but it's common knowledge that no one likes to share their old-school country picks with other eaters): $.25 gets you two songs, and I feel confident saying that mixed berry pancakes sized larger than your head taste better with Patsy Cline crooning.

Credit: Flickr/Alan Light

Bluebird Diner

Iowa City, IA
Every year, several Thrillist editors take a road trip to Iowa City. It's a weird tradition that isn't worth explaining, but there is much eating and drinking and feeling old when, at some point, we inevitably stumble into Brothers, Iowa City's main college dive. And in the morning, there is no bigger ally in the fight against nausea than a breakfast at Bluebird. Unlike a lot of diners, they have a manifesto, and it includes the names of the local partners they use to get their food (what's up, Dreesman Buffalo Ranch!), and said food is delicious. Do yourself a favor and get the Huevos Epsteinos, a "cross cultural collision" of homemade chili verde, smoked pork, Parmesan polenta, over-easy eggs, and hash browns. And maybe stay out of Brothers.

Credit: John Carrington

The Breakfast Club

Tybee Island, GA
First things first, The Breakfast Club has been serving omelets on the quirky island outside Savannah since 1976, nine years before Judd Nelson threw his fist in the air while strutting across the football field in THAT MOVIE. Jodee Sadowsky, a CIA graduate, has been at the helm for most of that time with a homemade policy governing everything from the Smackwater Jack omelet's spicy sausage to the toast that's definitely the most boring part of the, uh, "Emotionally Satisfying!" PMS omelet order, a two-egg omelet loaded with spinach, garlic, mushrooms, and Parm, served with grits, bacon, and that house-made bread. The line's notoriously long, but, hey, this is the beach, and there are worse places to spend your morning than waiting in the dunes for a seat at this counter.

Credit: Adam M. White

Brent's Drugs

Jackson, MS
Brent's may've made its Hollywood debut in The Help and undergone a number of renovations since it first opened its doors in 1946, but this Jackson diner maintains its old-school soda-fountain style and well-worn air of a neighborhood institution. Grab a stool and order a French toast sandwich -- two slices housing a fried egg and gooey American cheese -- or a grilled bacon & pimento cheese sandwich with spicy, gooey cheese oozing out. If the menu's overwhelming, just keep sampling until it's time to drink... Brent's may look like it could host a sock hop, but it's also hiding Jackson's best cocktail spot, speakeasy-style, in the back.

Credit: Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Diner Grill

Chicago, IL
Built from an old railroad dining car, this 24-hour institution is everything a diner ought to be. No tables. No frills. Just a counter, a big-ass griddle, and guys working it who know how to turn out lifesaving breakfast foods and burgers at a breakneck pace. The signature move here is known as the Slinger, a daunting mountain of hash browns, burger patties, runny eggs, cheese, and grilled onions covered in chili and kicked with toast for mopping up the mess (yes, you get a certificate for finishing). Of course, if that sounds like too much, you could go off-menu for a Dick Burger (topped with a runny egg and hash browns), the late-night brainchild of a regular (Richard) who also happened to be the Alinea sommelier at the time. When the staff at a 3-Michelin star joint endorses your late-night prowess, you're doing something right.

Credit: Sue Leiting/

Franks Diner

Kenosha, WI
In 1926, Anthony Franks' $7,500, Jersey-made dining car arrived by rail in Kenosha, WI, finishing its journey to downtown behind a crew of six probably really unhappy horses. The same family ran the diner all the way until 2001 and, two more owners later, little has changed, besides the addition of another dining room (you'll almost definitely be eating here -- few are lucky enough to land a counter stool) and a larger kitchen. Do as everyone else in Kenosha has for the last 89 years and order a Garbage Plate, that's as much a legend as the diner itself: five eggs, hash browns, peppers, onions, and one (or three) meats. It also comes with toast, which you won't be able to eat.

Credit: Galley Diner

The Galley Diner

South Boston, MA
Southie is in the midst of an inarguable transformation, as the siren song of gentrification now plays loudly and on repeat. Yet Galley remains the same as it did many years ago, when I lived in an ugly apartment building at N and Sixth known as the Ramada. When you are hurting, and you need something quick to eat in shame back at your apartment, their sausage, egg, and cheese on an English muffin is the move. But if you're actually willing to show your face, get the Southie omelet -- full of hash and cheese, it's a signature dish, and will assist your inarguable transformation back to being a normal functioning person.

Credit: Sara Norris/Thrillist

Harry's Coffee Shop

La Jolla, CA
In theory, a New York-style diner in San Diego should not work at all. The San Diego attitude's all, "Whatever, brah" and the New York attitude will punch that guy in the face. But luckily for La Jolla, the NY attitude is nowhere to be found, while 12 omelet varieties and bacon pancakes made the trip West. That explains the tons of regulars who show up day after day. Since 1960, the Rudolph family (including the three brothers who currently man the ship) have been treating the faithful to all-day breakfast, along with creative coffee offerings, like a mocha with Mexican chocolate and espresso.

Credit: Shanley Cox/

Hayes Hamburgers and Chili

Kansas City, MO
Hayes does things the same way they did about 60 years ago when they opened -- fresh hamburger meat is still ground and delivered every day and the homemade chili is made using a recipe from 1906. And the tiny Kansas City institution is still selling plenty of sliders in the present day, including an estimated "35-40% in the morning." Nothing like a chili cheeseburger before noon. There's also biscuits and gravy if you like breakfast food in the morning. Hayes' regulars also add character to the place -- people just finishing their shift at the Ford plant nearby and white-collar folk sit elbow-to-elbow at the counter. They don't have much of a choice, either, since the whole place is only 600sqft.

Credit: Howley's Diner

Howley's Restaurant

West Palm Beach, FL
Despite the restaurant tag, Howley's is an all-classic '50s diner, from its red leather counter stools to its neon glow that lights up Dixie Highway. You could say a 2004 renovation updated Patrick Howley's eponymous spot, but really it just returned the diner to its original 1950 glory. The menu, though, lines upgraded dishes, like crab cakes and fresh juice smoothies (Remember: you're in Florida.), alongside banana cream pie, berry pie, apple pie, Key lime pie, and all the other pies you've dreamed of eating alongside Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Hungry for more of the best diners in America? Head to for 11 more delicious spots!

More from Thrillist:

The Unofficial Comfort Foods of Every State in America

The 33 Best Burgers in the Country

Follow Thrillist on Twitter:

The Perfect Family-Friendly Recipe Under 800 Calories

Wed, 2015-01-28 07:14
INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. -- Like so many other parents of picky eaters, Victoria Phillips cooked two dinners every night: one with “kid foods” like chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, and then a more grown-up dish for her and her husband once the children had gone to bed. It had fresh vegetables and healthy proteins in it, but was finished way too late in the evening for the couple to feel nourished and relaxed after work.

“Two meals every night was just exhausting and not sustainable,” Phillips told The Huffington Post. “I’m a working mom full-time, so it’s just busy, busy.” But now Phillips is taking steps to make dinner a singular event for the whole family, thanks to a brief bootcamp with James Beard award-winning chef Tony Mantuano, who owns Spiaggia and Bar Toma in Chicago.

“My kids like pasta, so [Tony] taught me how to make a pasta dish that brought in salmon and fresh vegetables,” said Phillips, also from Chicago. “These are things that they normally wouldn’t try, but they would try the pasta -- so when I brought it all together, they’re more apt to try something new and different."

The two were paired up for the America Cooks With Chefs competition, which pitted six teams made up of a “home chef” and celebrity chef against each other to create a delicious, easy and healthy dinner under 800 calories. After meeting with their mentor chefs in late 2014, the home chefs got a chance to showcase what they learned at the 2015 Clinton Foundation Health Matters Summit in Indian Wells, Calif. last Sunday, where they served bites of their 800 calorie-and-under dinner to hundreds of conference attendees who then voted on their favorite dish of the night.

In the end, Mantuano and Phillips’ easy, “made under” version of an Italian American meal -- tender, flaky salmon, al dente orecchiette pasta and barely-sauteed zucchini and cherry tomatoes -- bested the five other dishes at the conference.

See Phillips' and Mantuano's award-winning recipe below.


  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into coins ¼-inch thick

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled

  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

  • 4 leaves fresh basil

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ¾ pound Barilla® orrechiette pasta (Chef also recommends orrechiette, penne, conchiglie, or gemelli shapes)

  • Four 5-ounce Salmon filets


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the zucchini to the pot and cook for three minutes or until tender, but not falling apart. With a slotted spoon or hand strainer, carefully remove the zucchini from the pot shaking off any excess water and transfer to a large bowl.

2. To the bowl, add the garlic, cherry tomatoes, basil, oregano, vinegar and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil to keep warm and set aside until ready to use.

3. Bring the pot of salted water back to a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook, stirring frequently until the pasta is al dente, about two minutes less than what is recommended on the box. Drain the pasta and transfer to the bowl with the zucchini mixture. Toss well to combine and allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. Quickly cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Rub the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on the flesh side of the salmon filets and season with salt and pepper. Place the filets in the preheated pan, skin side up, cover tightly and cook until the bottom has a toasted brown crust, three to four minutes. Remove the cover and gently peel away the skin.

Outreach Program Seeks To Help Kids Learn About The Opera

Wed, 2015-01-28 06:00

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - In a public high school in a working-class neighborhood of Chicago, opera singer Eric Owens recently talked with a music class about stage fright, proper breathing and making words matter.

"It's got to be like it's coming out of your toes," said the bass-baritone, as he coached the occasionally giggly but attentive freshmen through an early 17th-century Italian madrigal. "Like you're saying it for the first time."

Many teens are learning about opera for the first time thanks to one of many national outreach programs aimed at turning kids on to an old art form and injecting an aging, shrinking fan base with new life.

The news for U.S. opera has been gloomy in recent years with big opera companies like the New York City Opera and the Baltimore Opera Company shutting down. Nationally just 2.1 percent of Americans saw an opera in 2012, down from 3.2 percent in 2002, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.

The generational news is worse. Among those under the age of 25, just 1.8 percent saw an opera in 2012 compared to 3.3 percent for those aged 65-74.

"There's a concern that if we see a lot of senior citizens, what happens when they pass away and who will fill those seats?" said Cayenne Harris, manager of Chicago's "Lyric Unlimited" outreach program at the city's 61-year-old Lyric Opera.


Opera, with its long, melodramatic plots, foreign languages and expensive tickets, has long had an image problem with young people.

Alejandra Boyer, manager at Lyric Unlimited, said the barriers for teens can be "length, the perceived notion that it's going to be boring (and) that only old, stuffy people come to the opera."

Yet with its big, noisy feelings, opera is not a hard sell for many teens, once they are exposed to it, she said.

"The intensity with which you fall in love as a teenager is pretty operatic. These teens are really able to latch on to these stories and make them personal," Boyer said

"It's not so far from the world of 'Twilight,'" added Harris, referring to the blockbuster teen vampire movie and book franchise.

The Lyric addresses the cost issue by offering discounts for children and $20 tickets for college students. Sales under the college program are up 11 percent from 2013 to 2014, while attendance for primary and high school groups is up 25 percent over the same period.

Still, Harris said the outreach programs are not only aimed at selling more tickets in the short term.

"Our end game isn't necessarily a ticket purchase. We want to encourage people to enjoy the art. They may go off to college, have children and then come back in their 40s and 50s - I consider that a success," Harris said.

The Lyric Opera also goes into to Chicago's neighborhoods to perform for grade schoolers. Earlier this month, "The Magic Victrola," a children's opera, played to a nearly sold out crowd at the company's gilded downtown theater.

Other Chicago efforts include the two-year-old Youth Opera Council, which gives high school students a chance to meet stars, go backstage and bring their friends to shows.

Owens, 44, an African-American who has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and London's Covent Garden, is one of the Lyric's community ambassadors to Chicago's public high schools.

In class with Owens, who will play Wotan in the upcoming Lyric production of Wagner's "Ring Cycle," students got tips on getting over stage fright and honing your craft, whatever it is.

"You're never perfect at anything," he told them. "You're never not a student. I'm a student right now."

Maya Barber, 15, grew up singing gospel, but thought Owens was "awesome" and is starting to like opera. She also said she was happy to see that an opera star could be African-American, like herself.

"It gives me more confidence that maybe when I grow up, that I can be an opera singer, or any kind of singer I would like to be," said Barber. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski, editing by Jill Serjeant and G Crosse)

Teen Pleads Guilty To Fatal Stabbing Of Younger Sister Near Chicago

Tue, 2015-01-27 17:27

By Mark Guarino

CHICAGO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - A 15-year-old Chicago-area girl pleaded guilty in juvenile court on Tuesday to the fatal stabbing of her younger sister in a quarrel over household chores, local media reports said.

The girl, who was not identified because she was charged as a minor, stabbed her 11-year-old sister 40 times with a kitchen knife. The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago reported the attack took place last January when the two girls were home alone in Mundelein, Illinois.

The older girl at first blamed an intruder for the killing, but later confessed to authorities, the newspaper reported. Authorities said she was upset at having to do most of the household chores and not being appreciated for providing help with homework.

The girl agreed to a plea deal that will keep her in juvenile detention until she turns 21, although she will have the opportunity to seek parole in five years, the newspaper reported.

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim dropped two of the three charges of first-degree murder in exchange for the guilty plea, the newspaper reported. A spokesman for his office was not available for comment.

(Reporting by Mark Guarino; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Peter Cooney)

A new era in Illinois politics?

Tue, 2015-01-27 15:27
With Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Executive Mansion in Springfield, could this really be the beginning of a new, cooperative era in Illinois politics?

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek writes:

There was the inaugural order to freeze non-essential spending. Then came the order to block the revolving door on government employees cashing in as lobbyists. Next was the move to post on the Internet information about employees under Rauner's control who are hired for political positions.

Lost in the flurry was the fact that Rauner had a couple of House Democrats standing behind him as he signed those second and third orders. State Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat, has been pushing for an end to the so-called revolving door from public service to lobbying since he first went to Springfield two years ago. State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, has been vocal about the need for more transparency in government since his first campaign in 1999.

Clearly, Rauner's other message in the display, and in several of his Cabinet appointments, is that he will woo and work with Democrats, from veteran House Speaker Michael Madigan to relative newcomer Drury. Madigan is playing nice in the early going and Franks and Drury were happy to comply and join in the stagecraft.

"I like that he listened and we worked on it and he made it his executive order," Franks said. "That never happened with Quinn. He (Rauner) didn't care where the idea came from. It was a good idea so he implemented it."

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois to find out how else Republicans and Democrats might be working together over the next four years.

Another change that might be on the horizon in the next four years? Legislative term limits. State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, has introduced House Bill 257, which would place a question on the next state-wide ballot asking Illinoisans if they are in favor of imposing term limits for legislative leaders in the General Assembly. Find out what Franks thinks the bill's chances are at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: How much could the average Illinoisan buy with the state's $9 billion budget deficit?

13 Photos (And One Tweet) That Show How Underwhelming NYC's Snow Storm Was

Tue, 2015-01-27 14:43
It was supposed to be "very fast and very hard," "worse than we have ever seen before," "potentially historic," and generally terrifying. For the public's safety, New York City shut down schools, parks and public transit. Non-emergency vehicles were banned from the streets after 11 p.m.

Yet while parts of the East Coast were snowed in by massive winter storm Juno early this week, New York City woke up feeling fine -- if a bit hungover. Here's what it was like to live through the Blizzard of 2015: The One We'll Never Talk About Again.

By the time snow began to fall on Monday, everyone was freaking out about #snowmageddon.

The great pre-storm Kale Panic of '15. (Yes of course, this is the Gowanus Whole Foods)

— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) January 26, 2015

Some people got an early start on the snow day fun.

First Avenue is emergency vehicles only, so some bros are playing beer pong #Snowmageddon2015

— Christopher Hooton (@ChristophHooton) January 27, 2015

And to think tomorrow would be even better!!!

If, you know, everyone survived the night.

A video posted by Gros Craiz (@groscraizlafwer) on Jan 27, 2015 at 8:32am PST

Meanwhile, the streets were strangely calm, almost as if the threat were totally overblown.


But then, when we woke up...

i've never been so disappointed with eight inches before.

— noah michelson (@noahmichelson) January 27, 2015

NOTHING HAPPENED. OK, a little snow happened.


Some of us were REALLY, REALLY disappointed.

Calling for 30" of snow and only getting 4" is the cruelest joke you can play on a dog. #snowdog #blamediblasio

— Ryan Scafuro (@RyanScafuro) January 27, 2015

We're glad, you know, no one got hurt in the storm, but look at his poor little face.

Worst. Snow day. Ever.

we searched all 5 boroughs. not enough snow anywhere to ride. #dumbpocalypse 2015

— Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) January 27, 2015

Yet, strangely, much of the city remains shut down.

A few glass-half-full-types made the very most of it.

A photo posted by @bumbyfoto on Jan 27, 2015 at 6:44am PST

They tried.

People are actually skiing on the streets of Brooklyn! #snowpocalypse #Nomaggedon

— richard cook (@richcook) January 27, 2015

They really, really tried.

A photo posted by Kevin Finch (@eightfinchone) on Jan 27, 2015 at 8:08am PST

For others, life continued as usual.

#juno2015 The Hypothermic Cowboy

— Harold Itzkowitz (@HaroldItz) January 27, 2015

At least you're all set for the next hurricane, New York.

Here's How Much Less Women Make In Each State

Tue, 2015-01-27 14:00
If you're a woman looking for equal pay for equal work, then you might want to steer clear of Louisiana and Wyoming.

Those are two of the U.S. states with the biggest pay gaps between men and women, as seen in a new map from Expert Market, a site that helps businesses find equipment and services -- though women's pay lags significantly in every state.

To make the map, Expert Market used data from a Fall 2014 report, "The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap", by the American Association of University Women. The report used pay data from the Census Bureau, the Department of Education, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine which states had the greatest gender pay gap.

Women in all states make $10,291 less per year than men, on average, according to Expert Market.

Other recent research paints an even more discouraging picture. In 2013, women made just 78 percent of what men were paid, on average, according to the Census Bureau. The gender pay gap has narrowed since the 1970s. But at the current rate, it will take 75 years for women to have equal pay, a July report from Oxfam found.

Here is the gender pay gap in each state, according to Expert Market:

5 Super Bowl Storylines To Keep An Eye On

Tue, 2015-01-27 12:42
In American culture, the Super Bowl is more than just a game, and Super Bowl Sunday is more than just a cold winter's day. The game itself can sometimes be overshadowed by the spectacle surrounding it, including the halftime show (recall Janet Jackson) and whatever is the current scandal or controversy (hi, "Deflategate"). There are also parties to attend and hot wings to eat, and, of course, lots of shiny new commercials to watch.

But ultimately it all comes down to the action on the field, and in Super Bowl XLIX we have a dream matchup between the league's most recent dynasties, New England and Seattle. And for the second straight year, we have the top seeds from both the AFC and the NFC in the big game. With that in mind, let's take a look at the five key storylines and subplots to keep an eye on this Sunday.


It's a term used too often in sports, but one that seems appropriate here. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady -- fresh off the epic "Deflategate" disaster -- will return to a sixth Super Bowl together. Brady (pictured above) is the first quarterback ever to accomplish the feat, and if the Patriots win, his fourth ring will tie with Terry Bradshaw and the immortal Joe Montana for most all-time by a quarterback. Belichick, we know, will survive the current PR disaster, because he really doesn't care about anything other than titles and rings. At 62 years young, he's established himself not only as the premier coach of his generation, but as a coach perhaps second only to the superlative Vince Lombardi.

On the other side, we have Pete Carroll, 63, a coach whose rah-rah approach couldn't be more different from that of his counterpart, but whose success is equally impressive. Carroll, a former New England head coach himself, is beloved by his players, who frequently talk about running through a brick wall for their leader. A consecutive Super Bowl title for Carroll would mean two as an NFL head coach and two as a collegiate head coach, something that's never been done. Meanwhile, his quarterback, the undersized and under-drafted Russell Wilson, is already the winning-est QB ever through three seasons of work. If he wins a second world title at 25 years old, he will become the youngest quarterback ever to win multiple Super Bowls. In other words, regardless of which team emerges victorious on Sunday, history will be made.


Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks' enigmatic 28-year-old running back, has been left at least $100,000 lighter in the wallet thanks to a series of fines from the league. Nevertheless, after another fantastic season and a fourth straight Pro Bowl invite, Lynch remains key to his offense's success. Great as Wilson is, he doesn't have a true speed threat at receiver (the Seahawks are 11-2 after trading the electric Percy Harvin), especially with the season-ending loss to rookie Paul Richardson in the divisional playoff win over Carolina. Wilson relies heavily on Lynch, the NFL's leading rusher over the past three years, as both a runner and a pass-catcher who can turn innocuous plays into game-altering ones (Lynch leads the NFL in yards after contact). Seattle's offense will often morph into a stagnant set of three-and-outs -- as seen in last week's game against Green Bay -- and Lynch's sheer physicality and rugged running style may mean the difference between a win and a loss for Seattle this weekend.

For what it's worth, Lynch wanted to wear gold cleats during the NFC title game, and embattled Commissioner Roger Goodell and his office will reportedly be on the lookout for any obscene gestures this Sunday. If Lynch does not cooperate, the refs will give him a personal foul, 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.


With all due respect to Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Jimmy Graham, there isn't a more lethal pass-catcher in the league right now than Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski. An imposing 6 feet 6 inches and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is a touchdown dynamo with rare ability not only to stretch the seam of the field, but also to run a series of slants, hitches and fades. In turn, he gives Brady tremendous versatility inside the 20s and near the goal line. Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels recognize this and rarely ask Gronkowski to block. Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman got it right when he described Gronk as "pretty great."

As a whole, the Seahawks surrendered a staggering 11 touchdown passes to tight ends in the regular season, tying for third most in the NFL, according to ESPN. So, while the team's defense was downright dominant against receivers and running backs -- ranking first overall in QBR against -- it was just 22nd in all passes directed toward tight ends.


Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, 26, and Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis (pictured above), 29, are as dominant as it gets in pro football. They're also very different players. At 6 feet 3 inches, Sherman relies on his long arms and nearly flawless technique, while also staying on one side of the field for all 60 minutes. For example, Sherman -- a former fifth-round draft pick who has been named a first-team All-Pro three years running -- has also played on the right side of the field for 99 percent of snaps in Seattle's two playoff wins, per ESPN.

Meanwhile, the 5-foot-11-inch Revis, who signed on with the Pats during the offseason, tends to shadow the opposition's best receiver, displaying an almost unrivaled ability to anticipate throws. This season, Revis allowed just three touchdowns when targeted. Both Revis and Sherman are known for a relentless dedication to the film room, and as usual, each player will have to face a highly dangerous quarterback this weekend. Finally, keep in mind that the duo had a controversial Twitter spat back in 2012. There are lots of layers here, is what we're saying.


Seahawks-Patriots is hardly a rivalry game -- the two teams have played each other just three times this century -- but that doesn't mean there isn't some bad blood between them. Just this week, Pats corner and former Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner came out in support of breaking Richard Sherman's arm. "At the end of the day, this is about the Super Bowl," Browner said. "I'm gonna tell my teammates to go hit that elbow, go hit that shoulder... Try to break it if you can."

Sherman, for his part, has voiced his displeasure with the league not taking action against the Pats for "Deflategate." "Will they be punished? Probably not," Sherman said on Sunday. "Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. You talk about conflict of interest. As long as that happens, it won't affect them at all. Nothing will stop them."

On top of all that, of course, it was during a 2012 Seahawks-Patriots game that Sherman's now-infamous utterance -- "You mad, bro?" -- was coined, when Seattle overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit at home to beat the Pats 24-23. Thirteen points may not seem like much when we consider Seattle's most recent performance, but that occasion marked the first time a lot of Americans had ever heard of Wilson or Sherman. The fact that it came at Brady's expense and culminated in an instantly quotable verbal exchange adds yet more drama to a game already thick with it.

(function(){var src_url=""+window.location.hostname+"&hpl_ref="+document.referrer+"&onVideoDataLoaded=HPTrack.Vid.DL&onTimeUpdate=HPTrack.Vid.TC";if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") {src_url += "&siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category;if (commercial_video.package) {src_url += "&sponsorship="+commercial_video.package;}}var iframe = document.querySelector(".js-hplive-frame");iframe.src = src_url;iframe.className="";})();

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure to catch my NBC Sports Radio show "Kup and Schultz," which airs Sunday mornings from 9 to 12 EST, right here.

Fabio The Horse Has A Golden Mane And A Spirit To Conquer Abuse

Tue, 2015-01-27 11:31
Fabio the miniature horse earned his name due to a certain natural follicular resemblance to this guy.

But though his golden mane is spectacular, neglect left this gorgeous animal with shockingly long and tangled hooves that prevented him from walking properly. When Fabio's former owner surrendered him to the Ohio SPCA in early December, his lower extremities were in really rough condition:

This is what Fabio's hooves looked like at the time of his rescue. (Ohio SPCA)

"Fabio's hooves had not been trimmed in many years. He was able to walk very slowly. It was very difficult for him, as his hooves would hit one another, as he tried to lift his feet to make progress," said the SPCA's director, Teresa Landon. "We see overgrown hooves frequently, but Fabio's hooves were the longest we have seen."

The horse, who is thought to be 9 or 10 years old, was brought to a veterinary clinic for x-rays. Over the next several weeks, massive, heavy sections of Fabio's spiraled hooves were sawed off and trimmed.

Some of the chunks of Fabio's hooves that were removed, after he came into the care of the Ohio SPCA. (Ohio SPCA)

Landon says that the damage to this horse was so bad, and went on for so many years, that "Fabio will never be 100 percent normal when it comes to his hooves."

She's preparing an evidence packet for prosecutors, with the hope that Fabio's former owner will face charges.

"That's deliberate neglect, and under the Ohio Revised Code, that's animal cruelty,” Landon told Central Ohio's 10TV. “Because this animal has suffered for a number of years, he's now got damage to his body that's permanent, and it all could have been prevented."

But don't write off the handsome boy just yet.

Like a romance novel's indomitable hero, the horse with the golden locks and the neglected feet has the spirit of a stallion -- albeit in the body of a mini gelding.

And with the care he's receiving, Fabio is not only coming to slowly trust the humans who love him, but "will now be able to live like a normal little mini horse without any pain," Landon said. "He is learning to trot again, and it won't be long until that mane is flying in the wind as this little guy takes off in a run."

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));
Post by Ohio SPCA.

Keep tabs on Fabio and the hundreds of other animals -- from tiny birds to huge cows, and every creature in between -- being cared for by the Ohio SPCA on the group's Facebook page.

Get in touch at if you have an animal story to share!

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter

Can Hair Masks Really Repair Split Ends? And Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About This Treatment

Tue, 2015-01-27 10:18
Let's be real, most people only use hair masks to fix their severely dry locks or over-processed colored strands. This deep-conditioning treatment is like a last resort when it comes to at-home hair care, especially if you're nervous about what your stylist might do with those split ends.

Hair masks are just as beneficial, if not more so, than regular conditioners. Unlike a typical conditioner that rests on the surface of a strand, a hair mask works its way inside the hair cuticle. While the products boast repairing hair damage, regular application of a hair mask can "impart shine, help with manageability and work to nourish the cuticle," according to Joel Warren, master colorist and co-founder of Warren-Tricomi salons.

If you've ever wondered about the type of hair mask you should be using or whether you're even applying it correctly, HuffPost Style interviewed four experts and got the answers to your most pressing questions. Here's the lowdown.

Once your hair has split, repairing with a hair mask is impossible.

This is actually a common misconception, Marie Robinson Salon colorist and Wella Professionals ambassador Mark Debolt told us. "These masks act like a Band-Aid to smooth and mend frayed ends. The only true remedy for split ends is a haircut appointment," said Debolt.

However, British celebrity hairstylist Mark Hill noted that using a mask regularly will disguise the damage by packing hair strands with moisture to make them feel thicker and stronger. He added, "It won't cure them, but it will help prevent any more damage."

In order to know your hair mask needs, you must know your hair type.

For dry or wavy/curly hair that tends to frizz, Warren recommended masks that are intensely moisturizing. For thinner or flatter hair types, this pro suggested looking to masks with proteins to add strength.

People who have oily hair usually do not need a conditioning treatment unless their hair is badly damaged, according to Rachel Carter, a stylist at Dyer & Posta salon in Kennesaw, Georgia. They should use a wash-in/wash-out treatment since a hair mask can cause the hair to become oilier.

Even though there are different hair masks for different hair types and textures, you should really read the ingredients label.

Debolt's favorite hair masks are comprised of unique combinations of oils like almond oil (very hydrating but lightweight and great for finer hair types), jojoba oil (best for fragile, dry ends and highlighted hair) and panthenol (derived from Vitamin B5 that binds with water molecules to moisturize dehydrated hair).

Hill said he also favors argan oil for its nourishing and moisturizing properties that leave hair healthy, smooth and shiny, as well as these three ingredients:

Wheat proteins -- aids penetration and helps prevent breakage; great for any hair type and particularly finer textures.

Keravis -- increases the strength of the hair and protects from heat; best for damaged hair due to heat styling tools.

Bamboo/fern extract -- gives structure and strength to the hair; those with fine hair will benefit the most.

Hair masks made of henna work wonders for restoring moisture naturally, but beware of build-up.

"There are several benefits to using henna hair masks," said Warren. "First, the plant produces a natural, temporary ingredient from its leaf called lawsone, which binds with proteins and helps to seal the cuticle and prevent split ends. Henna also has cooling and conditioning properties that soothe the scalp and prevent itchiness and dandruff, while intensely nourishing the hair."

However, Debolt told us we shouldn't get too entranced by the subtle glimmer of tint henna imparts because an accumulation of henna can handicap a colorist's ability to add highlights.

Do-it-yourself hair masks really work but it depends on the concoction.

"Hair masks are all about moisture," explained Warren. "There are plenty of ingredients found in your kitchen that can be applied to the hair to hydrate it, such as yogurt, mayonnaise, honey and olive oil."

Carter advised us to make sure to completely shampoo your homemade mask out when you are finished. Nobody wants to sleep on messy sheets or pillows.

To get optimal results, this is how you should apply hair masks:

First, shampoo as you normally would. "The warm water opens up the cuticles on your hair. This allows the mask to penetrate into the hair's structure (a regular conditioner only tends to sit on the outside of your hair)," said Hill.

Then towel-dry hair and choose the best hair mask for your needs. Spread the product evenly onto locks, from roots to ends, and comb through with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. Carter's pro tip: those with flat and fine hair types should apply masks to the ends to avoid weighing the hair down.

For maximum benefits, Warren recommends leaving hair masks on for 20-30 minutes and covering your head with a warm towel. If hair is extremely damaged, try leaving it on overnight. To remove, rinse with cool water and re-shampoo/condition.

In need of hair mask recommendations? Shop the picks below.

More Hard Charter Lessons

Tue, 2015-01-27 10:02
News comes from Indianapolis last week that two of the older charters in town are being shut down. Fall Creek Academy and University Heights Preparatory Academy are going to that Big Chalkboard in the sky.

Fall Creek actually goes back to the days when then-Mayor Bart Peterson could whip up charters at will thanks to a magic mayoral empowerment law that Indiana passed just for his city (Peterson has since moved on to making money more directly in the charter biz). After a strong start, the school fell on less stellar times, and when the city pulled the charter, they turned to Ball State University. It's Ball State that has now shown them the door "due to chronic underperformance"

I don't know much more about these charters; I don't know if they're the victims of gross injustice or incompetents long overdue for being closed down. That's not what I noticed about the story. What I noticed was the headline:

ANGER BUILDS! Over Closing of Fall Creek & University Heights Charters. Why Won't Ball State Explain; Respond?

The article also contains this sentence:

"Parents wanted to know why and were stunned to hear that officials from Ball State weren't prepared to personally answer their concerns."

I want to feel bad for these parents. I really do. But it's like trying to feel bad for people who smoke cigarettes for the health benefits and then are shocked and upset when they get cancer. It's like people who buy a long-haired dog and are upset that there's fur on the furniture. It's like people who hit themselves in the head with a hammer and complain about the headache.

Here are two things for charter school customers to remember, so they can avoid being shocked, stunned, angry or otherwise surprised in the future.

Charters are not run by elected school boards. They do not have to answer to the voters. They do not have to answer to the customers. They do not have to explain anything, and in some cases have gone to court to fight for their right to be just as non-transparent as they want to be. They are a business, and they don't have to show you their decision-making process any more than McDonald's has to show you the recipe for their special sauce.

Charters can close at any time for any reason. People seem to automatically associate the idea of a school with the idea of permanence. That's incorrect. Public schools are permanent. Charter schools are not. Public schools represent a community commitment to provide schooling as long as it's needed. Charter schools represent a business decision to operate as long as it makes sense. Columbus, Ohio saw 17 charter schools close in one year. That is not some bizarre anomaly. Enrolling your child in a charter is making a bet that the school will be in business as long as you want to send your child to it. If you lose the bet, you have to know that losing was always a possibility when you made the bet in the first place.

Considering a charter? Do your homework and understand the risks that come with choosing a charter. Pro tip: "doing your homework" does not mean "listening to charter sales pitch and nothing else." That's like getting info about the car you want to buy only from the salesman trying to sell it to you.

I believe it's possible to find charters that do a pretty okay job out there, but any charter comes with certainly fundamental differences from public school, and some come with differences that can be shocking or stunning if you haven't been paying attention. Bottom line? Charter schools are not created to be just like public schools-- and they aren't. If you're going to understand anything about putting your child in a charter, that's the bare minimum that you need to grasp.

Originally posted at Curmudgucation

Best Hotels in the USA 2015

Tue, 2015-01-27 09:46
Selecting the perfect hotel can be difficult. Which is more important: location or amenities? Are you more concerned about getting a good night's rest or making sure the property offers plenty of perks like a pool, gym and business center? What if you're looking for a combination of all of the above? Determining a hotel's quality and assessing all of its offerings can prove challenging from afar. That's where U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Hotels in the USA rankings come in.

The travel editors at U.S. News researched and analyzed an array of resources -- from guest reviews and expert recommendations to travel websites and industry award lists -- to solidify an extensive list of the best places to stay in the United States. Our editors used a comprehensive methodology to evaluate more than 1,700 luxury hotels across the USA, taking into account the hotel's class rating, the number and prominence of industry awards it received and traveler reviews. From historical hotels set in the heart of cities like Washington, D.C., and Chicago to charming resorts found in secluded areas in the South and across the islands of Hawaii, this group of properties highlights the numerous and diverse lodging choices across America.

Quite a few newcomers cracked the top 10 list this year, thanks in part to their improved ratings among travelers and additional industry accolades. The 10 top hotels in the USA for 2015 rise above the rest of their hospitality peers because they offer the right mix of what most travelers are looking for in a hotel -- picturesque locations, comfortable accommodations, luxe in-room amenities and superb service.

See the full list of the Best Hotels in the USA»

10. The Jefferson, Washington DC
Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson is set in the heart of D.C., just north of the White House, making it a convenient spot for visitors to the nation's capital. Thanks to its higher traveler satisfaction rating and its collection of awards, the hotel made an impressive jump on U.S. News' Best Hotels in the USA list, rising up the ranks from No. 99 in 2014 to No. 10 in 2015. The historic hotel is host to a wealth of amenities, including an on-site spa, free Wi-Fi access, upscale dining venues and a cozy lounge, and its charming decor features tributes to its namesake, Thomas Jefferson, and his Monticello home. Aside from honors from Fodor's and Frommer's, The Jefferson earned recognition from more industry experts in 2015, including Travel + Leisure and Lonely Planet. Plus travelers praise The Jefferson (it nabbed a spot on the Condé Nast Readers' Choice List), noting the hotel's staff members went out of their way to make their stays memorable.

9. Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Peter Peirce/Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Impressive customer service, rooms with city and Lake Michigan views and a 50-foot-long indoor swimming pool are just a few of the perks that set this hotel apart from its other Chicago competitors, according to recent guests. Visitors were particularly impressed with the housekeeping staff and the friendliness of the hotel's employees. What's more, the property offers the Four Seasons brand's luxury amenities like MALIN+GOETZ toiletries, spacious accommodations and innovative dining. Situated on the Windy City's popular Magnificent Mile, the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago also earned the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award for 2015 and the Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award for 2014. The combination of industry accolades and praise from guests helped propel the hotel up from its No. 50 rank last year.

8. The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician
Scottsdale, Arizona

An oasis of tranquility on the outskirts of Phoenix, The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician sits at the base of Camelback Mountain. Aside from amazing mountain and desert views, the smaller boutique operating within The Phoenician complex offers oversized suites with private terraces, marble bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs, and complimentary Wi-Fi access. The property, which ranked No. 31 in 2014, also houses a 27-hole golf course for those interested in hitting the links and a Tennis Garden featuring 11 courts. The private infinity pool is another standout amenity for guests at the Canyon Suites. "Opulent," "accommodating" and "divine" are just some of the adjectives visitors use to describe the hotel, which earns plenty of additional praise from critics and patrons: The hotel received a Frommer's Exceptional rating and Condé Nast Readers' Choice Award this year, on top of the 2015 AAA Five Diamond and 2014 Forbes Travel Guide Five Star awards.

7. The Grand Del Mar
San Diego

Courtesy The Grand Del Mar

The Grand Del Mar is consistent -- year after year guests laud the hotel's outstanding service, impeccable grounds and beautiful location in Carmel Valley just north of San Diego. Its consistency has earned it numerous industry awards, including the AAA Five Diamond Award and a spot on Travel + Leisure 500 World's Best Hotels list in 2015. Its awards and overwhelmingly positive guest reviews helped the Grand Del Mar secure the No. 7 spot on the Best Hotels in the USA ranking for the second consecutive year. The property offers guests the choice between rooms, suites or villas, and the Grand Del Mar is home to a sprawling five-star spa, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course and award-winning restaurants. Plus, complimentary services like transportation to the beach, organized Saturday morning waterfall hikes and fitness classes put the Grand Del Mar a touch above its nearby competitors.

6. The Langham, Chicago

First opened in September 2013, The Langham, Chicago has already become a standout in the luxury hotel scene. The property earned distinction from Travel + Leisure on the 500 World's Best Hotels list and "It List," as well as the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award in 2015. The Langham is set in the heart of the city along the banks of the Chicago River, making it an ideal spot for visitors traveling for work or for play thanks to its proximity to downtown businesses and the Windy City's top attractions. On-site amenities include everything from the 22,000-square-foot spa and indoor swimming pool to the tasty dishes at Travelle. In its short time open, The Langham has received praise from numerous visitors for its upscale accommodations and the staff's helpfulness and attention to detail.

5. Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Peter Vitale/Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle impresses guests with its outdoor pool, rooms with sweeping city and Elliot Bay views, and excellent service. And the hotel's tailored packages make visitors feel like VIPs, whether they're interested in a private tour of Dale Chihuly's studio and the Chihuly Garden and Glass or a romantic retreat complete with a sunset sailboat ride. This Four Seasons outpost's location isn't too shabby either -- it's within walking distance of the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle Art Museum. Also winning favor with travel experts, the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is a 2015 Condé Nast Traveler Gold Award recipient and a 2015 AAA Five Star Award-winning property.

4. The Allison Inn & Spa
Newberg, Oregon

Solidifying a spot in the top five Best Hotels in the USA for the second year in a row, The Allison Inn & Spa is nestled in Oregon's wine country, the Willamette Valley. The intimate property boasts just 77 rooms and suites, all of which have floor-to-ceiling windows, gas fireplaces and balconies or terraces. Highly regarded by travelers for its seclusion and quiet atmosphere, the hotel also houses a 15,000-square-foot spa that offers guests a chance for even more relaxation with treatments like its signature grape seed body scrubs and mimosa massages. What's more, The Allison Inn & Spa -- a Lonely Planet Top Pick, Travel + Leisure 500 World's Best Hotel and 2015 AAA Five Diamond Award recipient -- gains recognition from travelers for the delectable dishes and wine served at JORY Restaurant & Bar and the hotel staff's willingness to make guests' stays exceptional.

3. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort
Bluffton, South Carolina

Courtesy The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff's mix of Southern charm and active pursuits just west of popular Hilton Head Island attracts vacationers year after year. Guests can kayak, canoe or paddleboard along the May River, try their hand at fishing or explore the more than 20,000 acres of land by hiking, biking or horseback riding. Experts and travelers alike love this property's quaint, Southern-style cottages complete with vaulted ceilings, fireplaces and screened-in porches, and its top-notch service staff. So much so that, aside from being recognized by U.S. News, the Inn at Palmetto Bluff also made the 2015 AAA Five Diamond Award list and the Condé Nast Readers' Choice List.

2. The Lodge at Sea Island
Sea Island, Georgia

The Lodge at Sea Island is no stranger to accolades -- it was named a 2015 Travel + Leisure 500 World's Best Hotel and received the 2015 AAA Five Diamond Award, plus last year it was named U.S. News' No. 1 Best Hotel in the USA. Though it was nudged out of the top spot, this hotel still maintains a high standard of excellence by providing guests with an abundance of amenities and attractive accommodations. The property features three championship golf courses, a massive spa and fitness center, tennis and squash facilities and multiple restaurants. Meanwhile, the Lodge's English country manor-styled rooms are outfitted with hardwood floors, Oriental rugs, marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and 24-hour butler service. Plus, according to recent travelers, simple gestures like employees calling guests by their names make visitors feel truly special at this hotel.

1. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
Rancho Santa Fe, California

Courtesy Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Soaring to the No. 1 spot on the Best Hotels in the USA ranking this year (up from No. 9 in 2014), the Mediterranean-inspired Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa sits on 45 acres of verdant gardens and olive groves in southern California. In addition to racking up some of the industry's most distinguished accolades, including the Condé Nast Traveler Gold Award, the 2015 AAA Five Diamond Award, and recognition as one of Travel + Leisure's 500 World's Best Hotels, the Relais & Châteaux resort receives plenty of compliments from satisfied guests. The hotel's staff is often described as warm, friendly and helpful and the grounds as well-maintained. The casitas are also met with praise for their custom wooden furnishings, comfy beds and ample amenities, including Illy espresso machines, private patios and nightly turndown service. Previous visitors also appreciate the variety of on-site activities and features, which include a pool, yoga classes, tennis courts and bikes for use.

See photos of the top 50 hotels »

About the author: Erin Shields is a Travel Editor at U.S. News. You can follow her on Twitter, circle her on Google+ or email her at

Here Are 10 of Illinois' Top 50 School Districts

Tue, 2015-01-27 08:38 ranked 747 of Illinois' 863 public school districts based on schools' test scores.

SchoolDigger determines a district's ranking by averaging the rank percentile of each school within a given district. Individual schools are ranked using the most recent reported test scores for Math and English. From SchoolDigger's methodology:

While schools and districts should not be judged solely on test scores, SchoolDigger states its mission is to provide parents with the information they need to make the best decision for their children, which includes data on a district's surrounding neighborhood ranging from average home prices to crime rates.

Check out 10 of the best here:

50. Prairie Crossing Charter School

49. Barrington Central Unified School District 220

48. Hononegah Chd 207

47. Palos Ccsd 118

46. Morton Central Unified School District 709

45. Benjamin School District 25

44. Mount Prospect School District 57

43. Winnetka School District 36

42. County of Woodford School

41. Arlington Heights School District 25

See the top 40 best school districts as ranked by SchoolDigger at Reboot Illinois. Plus, see information about individual schools and statistics on the districts' test scores, enrollment numbers and student-teacher ratios.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: The best overall colleges in Illinois

The Eight Kinds of People Who Post on Facebook During #Snowmageddon

Tue, 2015-01-27 08:05
1. The Panickers: provide constant weather status updates, bread and milk status updates, traffic updates and temperature updates. Can also be Photographers (see #7), by dint of Instagram shots of stopped traffic, empty supermarket shelves, outdoor thermometers which are snow-capped and icicle-adorned, and car dashboards with frightening temperature read-outs. Such panic is not limited to weather-related events, but also extends to deadly viruses, state testing, and hamburger meat recalls.

2. The Curmudgeons: originally hail from Canada, the Northeast, or the Midwest, and virtually roll their eyes at any precipitous snow-related hand-wringing. Anything less than six feet of accumulation is, by their estimation, a dusting, since in their day, they merely donned Speedos and flip-flops to frolick in the fluffy white stuff -- after they went to a full day of school, of course, because they're from Buffalo and BUFFALO NEVER CLOSED, GODDAMNIT. Often refer to blizzards as "Monday."

3. The #Hashtaggers: make everything into a joke by typing run-on sentences and the symbol that previous generations so fondly called the #poundsign. #snOMG #fuckyouwinter #thanksalotobama

4. The Snow-Poseurs: find any sort of discussion about snowstorms terribly bourgeois, and post instead about how lame it is to be concerned about two feet of snow. Usually freelancers with excellent wi-fi connection, or those with a less-than-fifteen minute door-to-door commute which is not reliant on public transportation. Often post about Sundance documentaries, brunch, and how awful they think the David Foster Wallace film will be, even though no one -- including the director -- has seen the final cut yet.

5. The Sunshine-Staters: reside in California, Florida or Arizona, and offer social media posts of condolences and heartfelt expressions wishing safe travels to their Northeast brethren enduring inclement weather, while they sit in their lanais in requisite tankinis. With a sweater draped over their shoulders. Because it's like, 68 degrees, and they lack the self-awareness to refrain from typing "Brrrrr!" Also, because they secretly fear that this will be the year we Northerners finally turn on them, and won't let them sleep on our pull-out couches when they realize that they miss the city, and need a place to stay so they can take their kids to see "Wicked" on Broadway.

6. The Northeastern Ex-Pats Now Living in Southern States: whine about their "pay-attention-to-me!" dusting of snow and spin-outs on Georgia roads. Because they're New Yorkers at heart, are bitter about having to order Brooklyn-water bagels and good deli online, and no longer have #Snowmageddons to complain about while they play golf ten months out of the year.

7. The Photographers: document snowmen and snowball fights and glinting icicles and snow-swept walkways and yardsticks stuck in four-foot snow drifts and cups of latte accented with frothy hearts and snow-bedecked bare branches and ice skates "haphazardly" kicked off on exquisite tile floors -- please, people, it looks like a stylist did that for Architectural Digest. Makes you want to brave the elements and drive over to said photographers' houses and smash their smartphones with the L.L. Bean boot knockoff you bought at Target because fucking L.L. Bean ran out of their waterproof boots three weeks before Christmas. A hundred years in business and you people didn't see that retro trend coming?

8. The Stoners: Clearly high or living under a rock, because this is the first they're hearing about any kind of snowstorm. WHAT?!? SNOW?!? WHEN?!? WHAT MONTH IS THIS?!?