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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Boots-For Him

Hey Halfstackers! We have the hottest trends for men this fall! Check out these great, affordable, stylish boots! We have found styles for any kind of trend you are going for! Have fun this fall with all these different trends!

Image Credit

Check out these items from brands like Timberland, Clarks, and more!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oakbrook Center's New Opening

Get a hold of your purses, Ladies! Cutting-edge styles will be available at the Oakbrook Center. The newest fashions from Tory Burch will be at your fingertips starting mid-October. Have you been endlessly searching for those perfect accessories to complete your look? This hot spot includes accessories such as handbags, eyewear, hats, and everything in between. 

Don't ignore a chance to update your accessory rack. This favored brand brings utter quality, diverse color, hot prints, and eclectic details to the table. Find your perfect you at this accessories-only boutique.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Latino Fashion Week: Beyond Exceptional

The one and only week dedicated to Latino Fashion is emerging here in Chicago. You heard right! Five days of pure culture, authentic fashion, and mind-blowing inspiration. Bringing together international and local designers from across the world to showcase their talents. 

This event, now known as a "movement", is touring through Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and yours truly: Chicago!

All the buzz this week goes out to Latino Fashion Week. This culture-filled event brings in Paco Mayorga to celebrate his 30th year of participating in the show. A wide variety of intriguing international styles fly in from Colombia, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico to share the runways with our local designers. 

Excitement builds for Ronald Rodriguez & Claudia Urrutia to take the spotlight. This local duo is HOT and READY and will be lighting up the stage with their upcoming collection. The hair-pulling anticipation to see what these two have created is building!

This worldly event is bringing in some special helpers this year! Tricoci University of Beauty Culture students are at the ready with their talents. These fire-filled young talents will be taking the show to the next level behind the scenes to ensure absolute beauty pours out on the runway. Their cutting-edge techniques can be practiced at the Professional Beauty Glam Workshops  Wednesday, October 1st. DO NOT miss this opportunity to learn from the pros and gain the insider secrets.

PAPARAZZI ALERT: Be on the look out for some big time attendees this week. 

Latino Fashion week is not only about the fashionistas across the world; National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is during October and will be celebrated with purple carpets. This 'purple event' empowers womanhood for all our fierce ladies out there!

It's all about the curves! Full-figures will be taking over on Thursday, October 2nd. Feel good in what you wear. Come out to see these curves laced with the hottest trends and classic styles. Something to walk away with: Beauty is universal and size is just a number.

Things to do - Solo Night Out

Ladies, ever wonder how your stylist always gives you the perfect blow out EVERY. FREAKING. TIME and why you can never get the same look at home? Well, the team over at Solo Salon is bringing your the lowdown at their Solo Night Out!

The Bumble and Bumble team will be on hand working with them to give all you ladies tups on the at home DIY blow dry! Check it out on October 3rd from 6-9PM! Tickets are $35. See flier below for details!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mikey Wax - The Man To Watch (and hear)

Sometimes the most talented people have the most humble beginnings.  Singer and songwriter, Mikey Wax started his music career by performing small house shows for friends and family.  Now, Wax's career has taken off with the release of his label debut album, featuring his single, "You Lift Me Up".  We chatted with him about this exciting time in his career, his latest show at SPACE, and pizza.  

photo courtesy of 4x4 Artist Management

Halfstack Magazine:  So, Mikey, tell us a little about yourself!

Mikey Wax:  I'm a singer/songwriter from Long Island, NY, currently on tour supporting my new self-titled album. I have a deep love for my fans, friends, family and guacamole.

HS:  Your label debut album was recently released, can you tell us about that?

MW:   I recorded the album in Nashville with two incredible producers/brothers Ed and Scott cash. It's my 3rd full length album, and as you mentioned my first release on a label, Toucan Cove/Universal.

HS:  Your single "You Lift Me Up" has been gaining quite a bit of attention!  What was your inspiration behind the song?

MW:  Thanks! The real inspiration for You Lift Me Up was my fans, friends and family who have literally lifted me up as I've tried to grow my music career over the past 4 years. Without their support I probably wouldn't have been able to record a new record, so I'm grateful for all that they've done for me.

HS:  You also have an exciting debut of a few of your songs on TV and in film, right?

MW:  Yeah, I've been lucky the past few years to receive some cool TV and film placements for my songs. It's always such an honor when I'm able to provide music for a specific scene or segment. The So You Think You Can Dance placement was very cool because they aired it weekly as their elimination montage song. I don't think the dancers being kicked off the show liked hearing it though. 

HS: You recently played a show at SPACE in Evanston.  How did that performance go?

MW:  The show was a blast! The Space is a beautiful venue and it was a packed house. The audience was very fun and responsive which always makes it more enjoyable to perform, plus the technical sound at the space is great so that helps us to get lost in the performance.

HS:  What is your favorite part about creating music?

MW:  I think my favorite part is the ability to have freedom and be in complete control of putting out what I hear in my head. There is no greater feeling then bringing to life something you hold in your imagination.

HS:  Now, time for the serious question.  Deep dish or flat bread pizza?

MW:  In Chicago we had to try the deep dish and it was incredible! However, for the most part I'll opt for flat bread!

HS:  What is your favorite, guilty pleasure TV Show/Movie?

MW:  New Girl for TV and Just Friends for movie.

HS:  What's next for Mikey Wax

MW:  I'll be on tour with the band Parachute later this month which I'm excited about. Followed by that, I'll be doing some private house concerts, which is how I got my start. Basically, my fans are able to book me to come perform a set in their living room just for their friends and family. You can find out more at my website, mikeywax.com.

Stuff to do - Weekend part 2 - Water Street Studios ŏn-sŏm' bəl 2014

If you're thinking the suburbs are seriously lacking in the culture dept. then you are sadly mistaken! Although Chicago is known for the arts scene, many of the suburban areas right outside of the city have established amazing communities for local artists. One area in particular that has seen tremendous growth in its culture and arts sector is Batavia, IL. A beautiful town in the western burbs, just 40 minutes or so outside of Chicago. The Water Street Studios has created an environment for growth and development for artists in the area. The Batavia Artists Association at Water Street Studios was founded to advance art education and appreciation by developing the promotion of fine arts in Batavia and neighboring communities.

If you are looking for some art, culture and fashion in the burbs this weekend, then make sure to check out ŏn-sŏm' bəl: A Bold Event To Support The Arts - this Saturday September 27, 2014.

Featured Artists: Steve Banks, Kari Kraus, Valerie William, Lisa Limas, Eli Borrowman, Jenna Walsh & Victoria Belz, Danielle Dobies, Angela Zeedyk, Dawn Tutt, Jen Evans, Patricia Davoust, Katherine Kratzer & Claudia Canon, Lisa Dienst-Thomas

Fine Art Show Curated By: Rita Grendze, Sculptor

Fashion Show Curated By: Curator, Andrea Reynders, Professor Emeritus and former Sage Endowed Chair in Fashion Design, SAIC

Purchase your tickets to the event here.

The Equalizer Review: Yikes

The Equalizer

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas

One time, my dad tried to broil a couple steaks without cleaning the broiler first. Things went okay for a couple minutes, then smoke started flowing from the oven. Things got bright. A spark ignited and everything went up in flames. My dad, thinking quickly, grabbed the enflamed pan and ran out the front door with it, dropping it on the sidewalk where we watched it continue to burn even after shooting it with the garden hose. It was a grease fire, and those things don't end until they are good and ready, no matter how badly you scald your hand or how much you plead.

This is the experience of watching The Equalizer, a never ending, astronomically bad movie.

First, the good stuff. Denzel Washington does what he can to show the two sides of this man of violence and compassion. Chloe Grace Moretz, as a teenager forced into prostitution, gives one heart wrenching look early in the movie as she walks out the door to an ill-fated night of work that is top notch acting from a young actor who is likely to win a lot of awards in her career. Director Antoine Fuqua shoots everything with a professional sheen and stages coherent action scenes that you can actually follow, unlike most modern action films.

The rest of it is willfully insulting to the audience. The first 30 minutes play out like Taxi Driver in microcosm, except with all the complexity removed. Washington is a well trained Travis Bickle with a conscience, where his acts of violence are made directly for the common good instead of serving semi-good ends in a lucky fluke of sociopathic rage. Moretz is Iris, but here she's an aspiring musician with no displayed talent – the movie makes it a point multiple times but never plays a note of her songs – and a laughable knack for telling the audience exactly why Washington's character is a good man, over and over. And several actors playing Russian mobsters take on the Sport role. This would be a fine, if overly familiar, premise if this morality play were to form the movie's plot.

But Washington punishes these people swiftly, the movie forgets all about Moretz after her part in the inciting incident, Bill Pullman shows up looking disturbingly like Mitt Romney's twin in a pointless role, and more Russian mafia higher ups try to kill Washington. For two and a half hours.

This is the type of movie that tells the audience at every turn exactly what to think. I don't mean that figuratively. Characters explain in the most literal terms who is good and who is bad many, many times. Every time there's a chance for the movie to show instead of tell, it chooses to talk down to the viewer. There is no trust that the people watching the movie will understand, for instance, the hero might have strong feelings about seeing an innocent person beaten to a pulp. It flashes back to scenes from minutes earlier to remind people of what they already witnessed. If you've ever seen Rocky IV, the king of "'memba dis?" seconds-later montages, you will have a good idea of what happens several times in The Equalizer. Moretz and Washington's hardware store coworkers are used as mouthpieces for the script to explain how sad the lonely insomniac with sad eyes is, or how kind the man who donates his time to help his coworkers achieve their goals is. Even when the movie tries to work in a non-verbal way, it bashes the viewer over the head as Washington strikes a Jesus Christ pose. In a visual medium where even the most subtle gestures are perceivable to an audience, nobody needs to these stupid overtures. But the movie misunderstands its medium to the utmost degree.

It also ends approximately 40 times. Every time you think you can leave, it tricks you into staying another several minutes. Oof. What a slog.

Stuff to Do: Flats Studio's Fall Gallery, Gravity

Starting tonight, artists from around Chicago will be displaying their work at Flats Studio on the north side. Curator Audra Jacot and her handpicked collaborators look to show Chicago art "within the context of uncontrollable, unforeseen forces." Flats Studio is located at 1050 W. Wilson. I'll be there within the week with a full report. You may as well join me, Halfstackers.

Some Movies Out This Weekend

Usually my caveat of, "This is not meant to be a complete overview of every movie out this weekend," applies, but there are only two new movies opening this week in wide release.  I actually had to look up the limited releases to find something intriguing. You will be able to find the third listing at a handful of theaters around Chicago if you're so inclined.

Opening this week, September 26, 2014.

The Equalizer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas

Based on the 1980s television series, The Equalizer looks to up the violence of the source material and bring some gravitas to a pulpy story – the director and star previously paired on Training Day, which won Washington an Oscar. That's all well and good, but the sting of filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's (Bronson, Drive, OnlyGod Forgives) departure from the project remains. It's likely the skeletal structure of what drew Refn to the material still exists, but the looks we've had at this movie so far don't promise more than Denzel Washington doing the same thing he's done for a decade. He'll be solid as always, with a stiff-upper-lip resolve and sense of justice, but with the short lead time Fuqua had after taking the project off Refn's hands, it's unlikely he had the option of imbuing it with his personal vision, instead being forced into a director-for-hire gig.

Or it could be an exploration of masculinity and chivalry and how that can go wrong. It can expand on the straightforward hand-to-hand action style hinted by the trailer to become a new action touchstone. It can show Chloe Grace Moretz continue her maturation into a possible awarding winning actress – she clearly is meant to bring to mind the Jodie Foster-in-Taxi Driver role here. The ingredients are there, but it'll likely be a slick Hollywood action thriller instead of the gonzo ultraviolence Refn promised.

The Boxtrolls
Directors: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writers: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Starring: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan

Stop-motion animation and charm go a long way with people. So do adaptations of children's literature. This is one ostensibly for kids, but from the looks of it – some good fish-out-of-water humor, a wonderfully talented voice cast, and most importantly, no instantly outdated pop culture references in the trailer – it won't be a bad experience for the parents either.

It looks like a simple hero's journey, but if it's done well, as directors Annable and Stacchi (Coraline, Paranorman) are known to do, chances are this one will be a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half.

Jimi: All Is by My Side
Director: John Ridley
Writer: John Ridley
Starring: André Benjamin, Hayley Atwell, Imogen Poots

Writer-Director John Ridley is a newly minted Oscar winner after having penned last year's 12 Years a Slave. He continues the biopic trajectory here, but with a different century surrounding the subject who is tragic for different reasons than the subject of Ridley's last film.

André Benjamin has always had a theatrical flair as one half of Outkast. He's charming and has a career's worth of knowledge on how to captivate a crowd, so his onstage work as Jimi Hendrix looks to be spot-on. We'll see about his ability to cover the range of human emotions, but he's got the performance aspects down pat.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Philanthropist Mike Mann Estabilishes New Political Party

The adage goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is one of the beliefs of philanthropist Mike Mann’s new political party, the Better Government Party. He created the party for people who believed the current two party system is corrupt and doesn’t represent today’s people. This new party and government will be based on transparency, trust, and accountability.
Mike Mann Mann acknowledges there are other options for voters, other independents and third parties. Voters don’t take them seriously because “they aren’t educated on their brand”. People don’t have faith or confidence in their current options. Mann knows all about branding. Even though charity and volunteerism are his priority, he realized he couldn’t afford to do just charity work. He made his first million in business online. His corporations, Phone.com, DomainMarket.com, and SEO.com were listed among the 2012 Inc 500 fastest growing companies. Mann is also the author of Make Millions, Make Change, a book showing people they can make money in order to better serve people.
Mann is a Washington DC native and former lobbyist. His mother worked for the EPA and his father defended cases before the Supreme Court. “I know a lot about politics and how politics work,” he said. What might separate Mann from any other millionaire venturing into politics is his wanting to support the weak, poor, and sick. “Everything bad goes back to not enough job training and good education,” he says. If people are trained well, they’d be able to support themselves. He’d change education so people would graduate with more hands on experience and job training.
The Better Government Party wants a highly internet based and electronic government. This would lead to more interaction and more accessibility, for example, real time town hall meetings. They would leverage modern ideas using social media. This does cater to a younger generation. “There is a growing class of concerned young people who feel dismissed by the current two parties,” Mann says. Change takes time and Mann is realistic about his goals. He has a twenty year plan in place. He’s garnering interest from people in Hollywood, Washington DC, and several business leaders. One of the next steps is holding a convention where they can establish their core ideals and create a constitution. Mann hopes the Better Government Party will have the majority in Congress after twenty years.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

American Idol Auditions: OPEN

ATTENTION ALL CLOSET SINGERS! Why keep your skills to yourself when the world is waiting to hear you? Broaden yourself to show what you're made of! The next season of American Idol is open--being an "Idol" isn't something to wait for! Sometimes that shower head may not be the audience you are looking for. Success pours out of contestants from American Idol. Ever hear big names like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, or Jordin Sparks? They all…and many more… started their fame through American Idol. Take a leap into what could be and check out the information below.

Not only will Ryan Seacrest be returning for Season 14 as a host, but Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. are also returning. The previous seasons of judges coming and going has come to a halt! Musical chairs is over, and your judges put on their seat belts for the nail bitting season.

Online AMERICAN IDOL® XIV Audition Information

WHO: All my ladies and gents 15-28 years old as of June 1, 2014, who are eligible to work in the U.S. Some restrictions apply – please read the Audition Info for specific information.
WHEN: Open NOW until Fri., September 26
HOW: Online auditions can be accessed here.
Idol Socials:

Join the conversation with #IdolAuditions
You only have a couple days left to submit your #IdolAuditions. Audition for @AmericanIdol online until 9/26!
Be bold and follow the link for more info: http://bit.ly/1rEEhxS

Don’t forget to pair up that amazing talent with some confidence. There’s no reason to hide your voice. You could wind up on a big stage with lights, singing your heart out. Little to lose and SO much to win. All of the contestants are out to make a new path for themselves. Be able to live your passion as a singer and audition now! It just may be the turning point that leads you to a career of hitting those perfect high notes on stage. Be the next winner, alongside Caleb Johnson from last season. This time, see your name in the headlines. Best of luck to all the vocalists out there!

Hofbrauhaus Chicago Oktoberfest

Originated in Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest is a 16-day-long festival leading up to the first days of October. While the Americanized version of Oktoberfest usually focuses on the drinking aspect of this celebration, German microbrewery, Hofbrauhaus Chicago takes the festival back to its traditional roots.

Located in Rosemont, IL, Hofbrauhaus Chicago is one of four locations in the United States. Through October 31st, Hofbrauhaus guests are invited to enjoy authentic food, Bavarian entertainment, and special events. On September 12th, the opening night of Oktoberfest was commemorated with the first taping of the Oktoberfestbier keg, with special guests, Eric and Kathy of WTMX. Of course I enjoyed a stein for myself while listening to live music and scouting the traditional German fashions. I had never seen so many leiterhosen in one room before!

On Friday and Saturday evenings of the festival, the Masskrugstemmen, contest is scheduled to take place.  Translated to “the lifting of a liter mug of beer”, the goal of the competition is to hold a liter stein full of beer parallel to the floor, with one hand.  The contestant who holds their stein the longest without spilling a drop is the winner!

Each evening from 4:00pm to 10:00pm, food and drink specials will be featured.  Each night also features special events, listed on the Hofbrauhaus website.  So, sit back, enjoy a soft pretzel the size of your head and raise your stein to October!