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Rochelle Clark, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

The sanctuary in a Downers Grove church gave a spiritual tone to a folk music show on May 17. The Potter’s Field, en route to a music festival in Kerrville, TX, where the duo is set to perform two songs selected as finalists in the competition beginning May 23, strummed and sang its brand of original, covering-the-classics and interpretive folk music in front of a backdrop of bricks, a crucifix and the other furnishings of a religious altar slid to the side.

The Two Way Street Coffee House, 1047 Curtiss St., which hosts live folk music performances and other events throughout the year, was displaced due to the heavy rain and flooding that occurred on April 18. The church project is temporarily holding shows in the sanctuary while the basement is repaired from flood damage.

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Dave Humphreys, founder of the Two Way Street Coffee House at the First Congregational Church in Downers Grove introduces folk duo The Potter’s Field from Michigan on May 17, 2013.

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John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark and John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, perform at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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Rochelle Clark, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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John Natiw, of The Potter’s Field, performs at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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The crowd was very appreciative of The Potter’s Field’s music performance at the Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, on May 17, 2013.

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The Two Way Street Coffee House, located in the First Congregational Church building, 1047 Curtiss St. in Downers Grove, IL.

Hot Potato Turns Three

Today marks the third year Hot Potato has been bringing you the little stories that fill you up. Do you have an idea for a story? You’re welcome to join in the fun. Drop us a line.

If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to Hot Potato. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s the easiest way to find out when a new post is published.

The Greatest Words

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

This image of a keyboard was done by Alessandro Reginato in Pove del Grappa, Italia, and posted on Flickr. He calls it "writing in the darkness." http://tinyurl.com/44x57p9

The greatest words are those that we connect with; they are our favorites.

Picking out favorite words can be as careful and thoughtful a process for writers and other language aficionados as describing favorite songs can be for musicians and disc jockeys. Like favorite music, when it comes to selecting favorite words, it’s not only about what you like, it’s about why you like it.

For fun I made a list over the course of about a week with a dozen or so words on it. Legion, quibble and spatchcock were among the first to be added. I picked words that I felt were fun to say and spell and, oftentimes, uncommon.

It occurred to me others might have made similar lists, so I searched and found a site listing more than 900 of people’s favorite words, as of May 27, with short explanations. Jackpot!

Entries for ethereal, shenanigan, circumlocution, persnickety and extravaganza are a small sample of the vocabular bliss that can be enjoyed at My Favorite Word. Looking through the entries is a lot of fun and a fantastic waste of time.

There are many reasons why people like specific words. The sound of the word, the way a word is spelled, its definition, and a person’s experience with the word or what it represents are all takes on what is important to us about words.

Alexi Maxwell wrote on My Favorite Word that she loved the sound of amoeba [uh-mee-buh].

“Aside from sounding wonderful, I like the word because saying amoeba at random is a good way to throw my friends,” Maxwell wrote. “I’ll be talking about the latest bestsellers, and I’ll pause to gather my thoughts. And then, out of nowhere. I very carefully pronounce ‘Amoeba,’ just for the joy of saying the words.”

In another entry, Melanie wrote she fell in love with the word plethora while working at her college newspaper.

“Plethora seemed to be such an elegant, intellectual word,” Melanie wrote. “Instead of saying many, a lot, or several, there is the beautiful plethora.  How could you not love it?”

Other entries also lauded lesser-used words.

In her submission to My Favorite Word, Neren wrote she loved the word adore for several reasons. Adore looks good when it’s written, is sweet sounding and has a meaning greater than love.

“And [adore] is also much less overused than the word ‘love,’” Neren wrote. “Hearing someone say ‘I adore you’ is actually nicer, for me, than hearing someone say ‘I love you’… Keeping in mind that nothing can really replace those three words.”

I plan to continue collecting favorite words. Perhaps my favorite word is the one that I haven’t thought of in a while, and will occur to me next. Or it could be the next word I learn about for the first time.

At the same time, I concur with my colleague Tim Bearden’s response to the favorite word question I posted on Facebook. He is a writer too.

“Well mine is two words,” Bearden wrote. “It’s ‘steady employment.’ Those are a couple of the best words in the English language.”

Copyright 2011

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Since playing Scrabble online and becoming familiar with the 100 or so two-letter words, I thought it would be fun to research some of their meanings. Here are a few of the more interesting finds.

Ai, pronounced ah-ee, is a two-letter word for a three-toed sloth, according to The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Third Edition.

Karoly Lorentey of Budapest, Hungary, "lorentey" on Flickr, shared this picture, "Linne's two-toed sloth," which was taken March 26, 2011 in Terezvaro, Budapest, according to the site. Lorentey wrote in the caption, "The Harpy Eagle likes to hunt these guys by snatching them from tree branches and flying them to its nest."

Sloths are slow-moving mammals with long, hook-like claws by which they hang upside down from tree branches, according to The American Heritage Dictionary Of The English Language, Third Edition. They eat leaves, buds and fruits, and live in Central and South America.

Sloths have a few teeth, as members of the Edentata order of mammals. Jacalyn Giacalone, who has a doctorate in Biology, discusses them in her article about sloths.

Ai refers to the three-toed sloth, not to be confused with unau, the two-toed sloth. Also, not to be confused with another two-letter word worth celebrating – op.

Op is a style of abstract art, according to The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Third Edition.

Op art, an abbreviation of Optical art, is a type of abstract art that exploits certain optical phenomena to cause a work to seem to vibrate, pulsate, or flicker, according to The Oxford Dictionary of Art.

This photo by Augusto Cesar Costa, "accosta" on Flickr, has a caption, "ceci ausi nes't pas une lampe," which as near as I can tell translates to, "This also is not a lamp." Well said.

Time magazine published a story in 1964 about the rise of Op art, “Op Art: Pictures That Attack The Eye.”

“Much op art is removed from the artist’s subjective discovery. It is the result of a mechanical muse, and the artist becomes a computer programmer churning out visual experiences,” the article reads.

Here’s what the story looked like in the magazine. And here’s a link to some of op artist Victor Vasarely’s work, for good measure, of course.

Ka is the spiritual self of a human being in Egyptian religion, according to The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Third Edition.

Britannica Online notes the exact significance of the ka remains a matter of controversy. Written in hieroglyph with uplifted arms, the ka seemed to originally been designated the protecting, divine spirit of a person.

The ka symbolizes the reception of life powers by each person from the gods, April McDevitt wrote on her Web site, Ancient Egypt: the Mythology.

When the ka acted, all was well both spiritually and materially, McDevitt wrote. The ka could also be seen as a guide, or conscience, for each person, urging kindness, quietude, honor and compassion.

The ka could survive after the death of the body in a picture or statue of a person, according to Britannica Online.

Ka, conscience, is one of three principal aspects of the soul. Ba, soul, and akh, effectiveness, are the other two.

Other two-letter notables:

Aa is rough, cindery lava.

Oe is a Forean wind.

Al is an East Indian tree.

Od is a hypothetical force of natural power.

Ki, or qi, is a vital, life-sustaining energy force.

Xu is a Vietnamese monetary unit.

Copyright 2011

Des Plaines Facts

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

5. In the mid-1800’s American naturalist Robert Kennicott grew up at The Grove near Des Plaines.

4. Lawn parties were popular in the 1900’s.

3. The Potawatomi, known as “keepers of the fire,” moved to Illinois, including along the Des Plaines River, from Wisconsin and Michigan in the mid-1800’s.

2. When 60 percent of Illinois was covered by a native tallgrass, greater prairie chickens were typical.

1. The Des Plaines History Center sells a button that reads, “Blame it on the train.”

To Seattle from Chicago

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Seattle, Washington captivated me. From sea to lake, environmental consciousness to grunge, the Queen City offers jarring art amongst ecological splendor. Here’s a bridge To Seattle From Chicago I hope you enjoy.

Copyright 2010

Blackhawks win – period

by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Flat screen TVs above the bar and small flat screens stationed at each table allowed everyone at The Pony Inn on Belmont St. in Chicago to watch as the hometown favorite ended the city’s 49-year Stanley Cup drought.

The room felt as electric as the mesmerizing, glowing televisions, and energy built up as the capacity crowd continuously rubbed against each other and smacked high-fives.

When the concluding goal to the Blackhawks’ stellar season finally made its way into the Philadelphia Flyers’ net, there was a pause of commotion in the bar and on the ice because we weren’t sure it was a score yet. People breathed in, or stopped breathing for part of a second – and then erupted.

Below is a short video I took of the celebration that followed the final goal of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory. I hope you enjoy it. Congratulations to the Blackhawks for a game well played and an honor well deserved.

Copyright 2010

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