Mini-or­chids, a magic lounge and a poem about Fe­bru­ary de­spair

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NEWS - Mary Sch­mich mschmich@chicagotri­

This is the lat­est in my oc­ca­sional lists of nine things I like.

1. Apric­ity


I’d never heard the word “apric­ity” ei­ther un­til a Tribune reader wrote to tell me I might like it. I do. It means “the warmth of the sun in win­ter.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mer­riam-Web­ster: “Apric­ity ap­pears to have en­tered our lan­guage in 1623, when Henry Cock­eram recorded (or pos­si­bly in­vented) it for his dic­tio­nary The English Dic­tio­nary; or, An In­ter­preter of Hard English Words. De­spite the fact that it is a de­light­ful word for a de­light­ful thing it never quite caught on, and will not be found in any mod­ern dic­tio­nary aside from the Ox­ford English Dic­tio­nary.”

What’s bet­ter than a de­light­ful new word for a de­light­ful thing, es­pe­cially if it in­volves sun in win­ter?

2. Mini-or­chids

They make great gifts, for your­self or some­one else. I’ve bought a cou­ple re­cently at Whole Foods for about $15. They bring life and color to win­ter’s gray days and last longer than a bou­quet.

3. “Press”

I re­cently stum­bled on this PBS Mas­ter­piece se­ries online and was quickly se­duced by the sus­pense­ful plot, the first-rate act­ing and the fact that, de­spite a cer­tain soap­i­ness, it gets a lot of sub­tle things about news­pa­pers right. It’s the tale of two ri­val Bri­tish pa­pers — one in­ves­tiga­tive and earnest, the other tabloid and proudly trashy — try­ing to sur­vive the new jour­nal­ism econ­omy. It in­ad­ver­tently of­fers a glimpse into why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry hate the Bri­tish press.

A bonus: It taught me the term “re­verse fer­ret,” which, ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, is “a phrase used pre­dom­i­nantly within the Bri­tish me­dia to de­scribe a sud­den re­ver­sal in an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ed­i­to­rial or political line on a cer­tain is­sue. Gen­er­ally, this will in­volve no ac­knowl­edge­ment of the pre­vi­ous po­si­tion.”

4. Inama Vin Soave Clas­sico

Sev­eral months ago, I told one of the clerks at Binny’s Bev­er­age De­pot that I was look­ing for a white wine — not too heavy, not too light, not too fruity, not too pricey and not too high in al­co­hol. He handed me a bot­tle of this Ital­ian white. I was skep­ti­cal. The name sounded too much like the kind of wine that would have im­pressed me in col­lege be­cause it had a fancy name and la­bel. But he was right. It’s re­li­ably good and right now it’s on sale at Binny’s for $13.99.

5. Chicago Magic Lounge

“I hate magic,” a friend sniffed when I told her I’d been in­vited to a group event at this spot in Chicago’s An­der­son­ville neigh­bor­hood. I didn’t have any feel­ing about magic shows one way or the other ex­cept to think they sounded old-fashioned.

Card tricks, dis­ap­pear­ing scarves, mag­i­cally ap­pear­ing eggs? It sounded so “Ed Sul­li­van Show” in a Fort­nite age. And yet it was great en­ter­tain­ment.

The lounge was con­ceived in 2015, in the web­site’s words, “as an homage to the his­toric, Chicago magic bar and restau­rant scene.” The crowd ranged from mil­len­ni­als to Baby Boomers (more of the for­mer than the lat­ter) and every­body laughed a lot.

6. The Brown Line

Yeah, that Brown Line. The “L.” It’s just pub­lic trans­porta­tion but I’ve been rid­ing it a lot lately, and rat­tling around on the el­e­vated tracks, I’m al­ways amazed at what a gor­geous and var­ied city Chicago is. If the Brown Line were a tourist at­trac­tion — and it could be — it would be the best and cheap­est one in town.

7. Chicago Black Restau­rant Week

Now in its fifth year, this week of restau­rant deals, which ex­tends from Feb. 9-16, fo­cuses on es­tab­lish­ments in and around Chicago run by African Amer­i­cans. Like Chicago Restau­rant Week, which hap­pens the pre­ced­ing week, it’s a chance to dis­cover restau­rants you’ve never tried, sup­port those you like and, ei­ther way, get some good food at good prices.

8. Car­rie Coon

Coon, an en­sem­ble mem­ber of Chicago’s Step­pen­wolf The­atre, seems to have been ev­ery­where for the past decade, and for good rea­son. She’s in movies (“Wid­ows,” “Gone Girl”, “The Post”) and on TV (“Fargo,” “The Left­overs,” “The Sin­ner”). I first saw her in Step­pen­wolf ’s “Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf?”, which in­tro­duced me to her pow­er­ful blend of in­tel­li­gence and emo­tional range.

She’s cur­rently star­ring in “Bug” at Step­pen­wolf, giv­ing a per­for­mance that the Tribune’s Chris Jones calls “deeply vul­ner­a­ble and of­ten pro­foundly sad.”

9. “Fe­bru­ary” by Mar­garet At­wood

At­wood, best known as the au­thor of “The Hand­maid’s Tale,” also ap­plies her dystopian mind­set to po­ems. Here’s a snip­pet of this one:

Fe­bru­ary, month of de­spair, with a skewered heart in the cen­tre. I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries with a splash of vine­gar…

…so get go­ing on a lit­tle op­ti­mism around here. Get rid of death. Cel­e­brate in­crease. Make it be spring.


Chicago Magic Lounge


CTA Brown Line


Car­rie Coon

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