The Lighter Side of JzB

Here you will find photos, poetry, and possibly some light-hearted foolishness. For the Heavier Side
of JzB
see my other blog,
Retirement Blues. (There be dragons!)

I claim copyright and reserve all rights for my original material of every type and genre.

Every day visits*
From Moose, Goose, and Orb Weaver
All seized by Haiku

"Why moose and goose?" you may ask. Back on 2/04/13 Pirate wrote a haiku with an elk in it, and I responded with
one with a moose and then included him every day. A few days later in comments Mystic asked "Where's the goose?"
So I started including her with this post on 2/07. A week later on the 14th, Mark Readfern
asked for and received a spider. The rest is history.

*Well, most days, anyway. Grant me a bit of poetic license.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

L.A. Times Crossword puzzle Blogging Wednesday, February 3, 2016 C. W. Stewart

[Cross-posted at The Corner.]

Theme:  Something you find on a fish.  No, not FINS or GILLS.  Think more musically - no, not even Vince Gill - and the reveal will make it clear.  So let's start there.

38 A. Musical sequence found at the starts of the answers to the starred clues : SCALE.   This word has many disparate meanings as both a noun and a verb.  Here, we are talking about a set of musical notes, ordered by pitch.  This puzzle has them ordered in ascending sequence, though, of course, you can also go the other way.  We're not told if the quality of the scale is major, minor, nor if it is one of the many modal variants.  But we can sing along anyway.  

The beginnings of the first words of eight in-the-language phrases name the notes of the SCALE.

1 A. *Where deliveries may be left : DOOR STEP.   The spot where mail-order deliveries end up.  DO is the first scale note, and the tonal center, aka tonic, for the SCALE and any music based upon it.

17 A. *Airport pickup : RENT-A-CAR.   The plane does not take you to your final destination.  You usually need to drive there, and you can use a conveniently located vehicle for a price.  RE is the 2nd SCALE step, a whole tone above the tonic.   We won't talk about the Phrygian mode, the comma of Pythagorus, nor vibrational frequencies.

20 A. *Modest garment : MIDI-SKIRT.  Mid-calf-length to protect delicate legs from winter winds and prying eyes.  Seems a bit awkward.  MI is the third scale step, another whole tone above RE in a major scale, but only a half tone up if the quality of the SCALE is minor.  BTW - the distance from one note to another is called the interval.

26 A. *Hiker's pouch : FANNY PACK.  A container on a belt, often perched over a person's back side. [But not in England.]  FA is the fourth scale step above the tonic.  This note does not vary between major and minor scales, and its interval above the tonic is called the perfect fourth. 
51 A. *Infant's dietary prohibition : SOLID FOOD.  Mom's milk is best, formula is OK.  Save the bran flakes for when they're a bit older.  SOL is the fifth scale step, always a perfect fifth above the tonic.  

58 A. *Breaking point : LAST STRAW.  An ancient measure of camel capacity being the last straw minus one.   LA is the 6th scale step, a major or minor sixth above the tonic, depending on the quality of the scale.

67 A. *History book chart : TIME LINE.   A graphic representation of what happened when.  TI is the penultimate SCALE step, either a major or minor seventh interval above the tonic.  As you may have gleaned by now, the natural minor SCALE differs from the major by having lowered 3rd, 6th, and 7th SCALE steps.   There are other versions, but we needn't get into that here

72 A. *Words of admonishment : DON’T DO IT.   Have we heard these words?  Have we heeded them?  Probably not.  This brings us to another DO, a perfect octave above where we started.  Despite what I said earlier, I'll point out that the frequency is exactly twice that of the previous DO.

Hi gang.  JazzBumpa conducting for today's thematically rich excursion.  Note that though the spellings are right on for the eight notes, the pronunciations vary a bit.  Rogers and Hammerstein wrote a song, based on a major scale, that illustrates all this, but I hate it and will not link. However, I will wave my arms around - so let's see where the music takes us.


9. Adorn in relief : EMBOSS.  To carve, mold or stamp a design into a surface.

15. First three of ten digits : AREA CODE.  So you can phone home.  

16. Bad guy : MEANIE.  Like Kylo Ren.

18. State with conviction : ASSERT.   Or aver or avow.

19. "It's __ cause" : A LOST.   Words of giving up.

22. Extra-play qtrs. : OTs.  Over Times.

24. Influenced by, in recipes : A LA.  In the style of whoever the influence might be.

25. July baby, maybe : LEO.  Astrology sign usually associated with August, actually running from July 23 to Aug 22.   LEOS are generous, loyal and supportive.

31. Storm winds : GALES.   

33. Have yet to pay : OWE.

34. NFC South team : ATL.  The ATLanta Falcons of the National Football Conference South, a division of the National Football League.

35. Part of rpm : PER.

36. Whipped cream amount : GLOB.  Non-specific quantity, but I'll take two, thank you.

40. Authoritarian figure : CZAR.   Named for Russian despots of a by-gone era.

44. Chair part : ARM.  What - no love for the leg?  Is that why we have the MIDI SKIRT?

46. Balderdash : ROT.  Nonsense.

47. Poetic tribute : ODE.

48. Volunteer's offer : I'LL GO.

54. Buck's mate : DOE.   A deer, my dear, and a thematic homophone.

55. Sun Devils of the Pac-12 : Arizona State Univesity.

57. Afternoon social : TEA.   in which the beverage is accompanied by sandwiches or cakes.

62. Giant : TITAN.   From Greek mythology, the twelve TITANS were gigantic second order deities, six female and six male.   The familiar Greek pantheon of Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, Hera and Demeter were the offspring of the Titan Cronus.

66. Where it originally was : IN SITU.  From Latin for "in place."

69. Had to have : NEEDED.  

70. Cordial with a licorice-like flavor : ANISETTE.   Last week we learned that Anise, the flavor element here, is an herb in the carrot family.  So why is there no cordial with a carrot-like flavor?

71. Prone to avarice : GREEDY.


1. Swimmer Torres with 12 Olympic medals : DARA.

2. Pitcher Hershiser : OREL.   He played in the major leagues for 18 years with 5 different teams, won the Cy Young Award, was a 3-time all star, and World Series MVP.   Not bad.

3. Wine lover's prefix : OENO.  Into English from ancient Greek.

4. Exposes to the cops : RATS ON.   Alternatively, sings like a birdie.

5. Absent-minded, to a Brit : SCATTY.  From scatter-brained, I assume.

6. Front-of-bk. list : TOC.  Table Of Contents.

7. Red-coated cheese : EDAM.   From the eponymous town in The Netherlands.

8. Prefix with scope : PERI-.   The submarines monocular.

9. Text alternative : E-MAIL.  Two forms of communication by device.

10. Many a text : MESSAGE.   I'm trying to imagine a text that is not a MESSAGE, and coming up short.

11. Get some rays : BASK.   In the sun - for pleasure and relaxation.   Don't get burned.

12. "The Hairy Ape" playwright : O'NEILL.  Eugene.  The play is about class struggle and alienation.

13. Yes or no follower : SIRREE.   Colloquial emphasis.

14. Brief arguments : SET TOs.    Or hockey fights - which also generally do not last long.

21. Divided terr. : DAKota.   North and South.

23. Cramp, say : SPASM.  Involuntary muscle contraction.

26. Weather condition in the final scene of "Casablanca" : FOG.   But it's the start of a beautiful friendship

27. Belt maker's tool : AWL.  A pointy tool for poking holes.

28. Opposite of paleo- : NEO.  Modernizing a blast from the past.  Paleo- indicates adhering to old ways as they always were.  Can't quite see these as opposites.

29. Flight coordinators: Abbr. : ATC.   Air Traffic Controllers.

30. Light cigar wrapper : CLARO.  The wrapper is the outer leaf of a cigar, and can influence its characteristics.   CLARO is yellowish or light tan and usually indicates a shade grown tobacco.

32. Part of a ring : ARC.  A ring is shaped like a circle and a circle can be divided into arcs - but does anyone divide a ring this way?  Hmmmm.

35. __ point: embroidery stitch : PETIT.   A very small, fine stitch that allows detail in the design of the article.

37. Groceries quantity : BAG.   Paper or plastic?   

39. "u r a riot!" : LOL.   Laughing Out Loud.  Texter's appreciations for something funny.

41. Menagerie : ZOO.    An exhibit of captive wild animals.

42. Excitement : ADO.   Trouble, difficulty or fuss.

43. Like the bull in the Chicago Bulls' logo : RED.

45. __ peanuts : ROASTED.   Crunchy

48. In neutral : IDLING.   Running, but out of gear.

49. Temporary wheels : LOANER.

50. Tenant : LESSEE.   Renter with a lease agreement.

51. California's Big __ : SUR.  Approximately 90 miles of rugged coastline from the Carmel River in Monterey south to San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County.    The name is derived from Spanish for "The Big South" relative to the city of Monterey.

52. Can't stand : DETEST.

53. Didn't hit the books? : FAILED.  Neglected to prepare for a test in school.

56. Hit the books : STUDY.  Prepare for a test in school, and back to back clehos.

59. It has its highs and lows : TIDE.   Ocean levels.

60. Minimally : A TAD.   Possibly derived from tadpole, the larval stage of a frog, transferred thence to a small child, and than representing a small quantity.

61. Skid row regular : WINO.   Wine-addicted alcoholic.

63. Jackson 5 brother : TITO.

64. Voting no : ANTI.

65. Discontinued depilatory : NEET.  Evidently the name was discontinued, but the product wasn't.  It is now sold under the trade name VEET.

68. Part of rpm: Abbr. : MINute.

That's it, folks.  Hope you enjoyed the performance.

Cool regards!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

L.A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 Bruce Haight

[Cross-Posted at The Crossword Corner]

Theme: Wealth well within the dreams of avarice.  Phrases representing large sums of money are clued in such a way that the phrase relates to a person's occupation or avocation.  

17. Tidy sum, to a coin collector? : PRETTY PENNY.   This phrase is known to go back to the 1760's.  In this instance, PENNY is a synecdoche for money in general, as contrasted to its usual indication of an insignificant amount, so the phrase incorporates a modicum of sardonic humor.  A coin collector would have above average appreciation for a literal PRETTY PENNY, if it were of sufficient rarity.   Alternatively, one may consider  .  .  .

28. Tidy sum, to a chairmaker? : AN ARM AND A LEG.  This phrase is not known to go back any further than 1949.  It may be derived from 19th century phrases like "I'd give my right arm for . . ." which seems familiar and " . . . even if it takes a leg," which does not.  In any event, it's more in-the-language than A SEAT AND A BACK, which the chairmaker must also consider.

43. Tidy sum, to a soothsayer? : SMALL FORTUNE.  This phrase is more literal, and I can't find any information on where it came from.  It indicates a sum beyond what is reasonable in some circumstance, but certainly less than a large fortune.   A soothsayer can presumably use some occult mechanism to predict your future.  But - can you afford it?

56. Tidy sum, to a chess player? : KING’S RANSOM.  Now we're talking real money.  The phrase is only known to go back to the 13th Century.  In 1260, during the 7th Crusade, King Louis IX of France was captured in Egypt by Turks, who demanded a large amount of money to secure his release. However, during the 3rd Crusade, Richard I Plantagenet of England was captured in December, 1192 by Duke Leopold of Austria who had a real or imagined grudge.  The amount demanded for his release was more than twice the annual income of the English crown.   Taxes were raised, the churches were looted of their treasures, and eventually the money was delivered.  Richard was released on Feb. 4, 1194.  As a side note, Richard's brother John offered a tidy sum if Richard would be detained until Michaelmas - Sept 29th.  This offer was rejected.   It's highly unlikely that any chess piece, even the King, would demand such a quantity.

Hi gang,  JazzBumpa here - sadly, no richer than the last time we met.  We were shopping that day, and today we can consider if we perhaps paid too much.

Onward, then, to the rest of the puzzle.


1. Musical with the song "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" : EVITA.

6. Petty distinctions, metaphorically : HAIRS.  As in splitting them.

11. Midriff punch reaction : OOF.  Onomatopoeia for the sound of air thus forcibly expelled.  

14. Noble gas : XENON.  Along with helium, neon, argon, krypton and radon.  These gases are chemically inert and considered noble due to their non-reactivity.

15. Former Illinois senator : OBAMA.   Whatever happened to that guy?

16. "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" network : National Public Radio.

19. Golf prop : TEE.  Little wooden peg that slightly elevates the ball for the first shot on any hole.  It's considered gauche to use it on the second shot.

20. "Most Excellent" U.K. award : OBE.

21. Emcee : HOST.  Master of Ceremonies initials, phonetically spelt.

22. Gooey treat : S'MORE.   Contraction of "some more" because that's what you are expected to want after a taste of this marshmallow cum chocolate cum graham cracker confection.  I am not a fan.

24. Muralist Rivera : DIEGO.

26. Places for rejuvenation : DAY SPAS.

31. Clobbers : BONKS.

32. Regrets : RUES.

33. Rain-__: gum brand : BLO.   Classic gum ball since 1940, coming in a variety of color coded flavors.

36. Financial pros : Certified Public AcountantS.

37. Tries : STABS.    Has a go at.

39. Many millennia : AEON.  

40. Fall mo. : SEPtember.

41. Only person to win both an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize : SHAW.   George Bernard won the Nobel prize for literature in 1925 "for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty".   The Academy Award came in 1938 for his film adaptation of Pygmalion.

42. Clock button : ALARM.   I really wanted SNOOZE.  [I know it doesn't fit, but still  .  .  .]

46. Alleviate : ASSUAGE.  The word came into Middle English via Old French, and ultimately traces back to Latin ad + suavis, hence to sweeten.

49. Baggage carousel aid : ID TAG.  

50. Color in une cave √† vin : BLANC.   A wine cellar might contain some whites, as indicated here.

51. Angers : IRES.

52. Kin of org : EDU.   URL extensions.

55. Japanese capital : YEN.   Money, not the seat of government.

60. Ready, or ready follower : SET.   Nicely formed clue, illustrating two different senses of the target word.

61. Theme park with a geodesic sphere : EPCOT.   Part of Disney World.

62. Slacken : LET UP.   Reduce the amount of applied force or effort.

63. Calypso cousin : SKA.   Jamaican music from the 50's.

64. They may be Dutch : DOORS.   This is a two part door divided horizontally, roughly in the middle, designed so that the top half can be open and the bottom half left closed.  This allows fresh air into the room while keeping animals out and small children in.

65. Potters' pitchers : EWERS.   Large wide-mouthed jugs for carrying water.  The clue suggests they are made from ceramic, but this is not necessary.


1. Big show : EXPO.  An exposition or trade fair and convention venue.

2. Beg, borrow or steal : VERB.  A self-referential clue relating to examples of a part of speech.  Meh! 

3. "My bed is calling me" : I NEED A NAP.  As occasionally does happen.

4. Kid : TOT.  Child.

5. Country music? : ANTHEMS.  Songs of loyalty or devotion associated with particular countries, groups or causes.

6. Climbs aboard : HOPS ON.

7. Distract the security guards for, say : ABET.   Assist the perp in his criminal endeavor.

8. Actor Somerhalder of "The Vampire Diaries" : IAN.

9. LBJ successor : RMN.   Richard Milhous Nixon.

10. Agrees : SAYS YES.

11. Winning : ON TOP.   But it ain't over 'till it's over.

12. Art form with buffa and seria styles : OPERA.  If you say so.

13. Emancipates : FREES. Especially from legal, social or political restrictions.

18. Meditative practice : YOGA.  Distinct from but associated with Hatha YOGA.

23. Flavor intensifier : Mono Sodium Glutamate.

25. Bugs a lot : IRKS.

26. Smear : DAUB.  Apply something in an irregular manner.

27. Some Full Sail brews : ALES.   Full Sail is an independent employee-owned brewery in Hood River, Oregon.

28. Basics : ABC's.

29. "Forget it" : NOPE.

30. Country inflection : DRAWL.  Y'all tahk lahk this, ya see - and dawg is a three syllable word.

33. Noble act, in Nantes : BEAU GESTE.  French, but easy enough guess with a little perp help.   the fact that there are an English language novel and movies of the same name also helps.

34. Forsaken : LORN.  The same as forlorn.  The German cognate, verloren, means lost.

35. "My treat" : ON ME.  Now we're back to buying.

37. Thick carpet : SHAG.   Deep pile.  Very 70's.

38. Grimm story : TALE.   Kinder- und Hausm√§rchen [Children's and Household Tales], their collection of German fairy tales, was published in 1812.  Many of the tales are indeed grim, disturbing, and unsuitable for children  

39. Ski resort near Salt Lake City : ALTA.   Where's Marti when you need her?

41. Kissed noisily : SMACKED.

42. Gallery event : ART SALE.

43. Day light : SUN.   Often obscured by clouds.

44. They haven't been done before : FIRSTS.

45. Frankfurt's river : ODER.  The other Frankfurt is on the Main River.

46. Hardly a miniature gulf : ABYSS.   Deep chasm, and a nice word play in the clue.

47. Smooth and stylish : SLEEK.

48. Blitzen's boss : SANTA.  Sled-pulling reindeer and his driver.

51. "Young Frankenstein" role : IGOR.

53. Ill-humored : DOUR.   Gloomy and stern.  Is that a good match?

54. World Series field sextet : UMPS.   Regular season games have 4 UMPires - one behind the plate and one at each base.  Major league post season games add two in the outfield.

57. Wall St. debut : Initial Public Offering.   First general opportunity to acquire equity in the corporation.

58. Sgt. or cpl. : Non Commissioned Officer.

59. Fresh : NEW.

Well, that's all for today.  Nice puzzle with a bit of sparkle and couple of outstanding clues.  Hope you got your money's worth.

Cool regards!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

L.A. Time Crossword Puzzle Blogging - Wednesday, January 13, 2016 C. C. Burnikel

Theme:  But wait, there's more  .  .  .  The first words of three theme entries describe ways in which you can make purchases from the comfort of your own home.

18 A. Worker in a red, white and blue truck : MAIL CARRIER.   For the U.S. Postal Service.   You can use it to order by mail.

37 A. eBay event : ON-LINE AUCTION.   And you can also order ON-LINE from Amazon and many traditional retailers.

61 A. Document that might be subpoenaed : PHONE RECORD.   I'll let our legal experts explain why PHONE RECORDS might be gathered as evidence.   But you can also make your purchases by phone.  Have your credit card handy.

And the reveal:  40 D. Catalog come-on ... three ways to do it begin 18-, 37- and 61-Across : ORDER NOW.   Our sales executives are standing by.  Act fast and at no extra charge  .  .  .  Well, you get the idea.

Today's constructor is, as Robert Plant once said, "a lady we all know."  And it looks like she's getting ready to buy something.  Even if the stores are all closed, she's discovered several ways to get what she came for.

Hi gang - JazzBumpa here, repping for The Corner Crew.  Are you in a buying mood?  It makes me wonder. Ooh, it really makes me wonder.  Let's check out the merchandise.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

L. A. Time crossword Puzzle Blogging Wednesday, December 30, 2015 Michael Dewey

Theme: Having a go at it -  or - disappointing Yoda.  The last word of multi-word in-the-language phrases are all synonyms for striving to achieve something.

17 A. It may lead to an acquisition : TAKE OVER ATTEMPT.  One corporation ATTEMPTS to take over another.

28 A. Coalition : JOINT ENDEAVOR.  Working together for a common goal.  Rather a different shade of meaning, as compared to ATTEMPT.

48 A. With "the," one's best shot : OLD COLLEGE TRY.  This is a wild and desperate ATTEMPT to achieve something, perhaps with a bit of showboating along the way.

62. Sincere intention to be fair : GOOD FAITH EFFORT.  This is actually a legal term, relating to "what a reasonable person would determine is a diligent and honest EFFORT under the same set of facts or circumstances." Troutt v. City of Lawrence, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61641 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 8, 2008)

As I see it, all except JOINT ENDEAVOR carry some implication of failure, realized after the fact. Does that seem right?

Hi, gang, JazzBumpa here.  Nicely constructed theme, with a couple of grid-spanners.  The rest of the puzzle lies before us.  Shall we do or not do?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

L. A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 Kurt Krauss

Theme: DIVESTITURES, being the opposite of mergers, in which companies come together.  For today's theme, they come apart. To make sense of this, let's part with tradition and start with the unifier.

38 A. Went different ways ... or what each of six sets of circled letters literally represents : PARTED COMPANY.   Anyone who has an Ex or two can relate. But here, COMPANY means a profit oriented business organization.  In the grid, COMPANY names are bookends in the theme fill, PARTED by the central letters.   The letters in the names are indicated with circles in the grid.  If you didn't get them, then the whole thing was probably baffling.

18 A. WWI aircraft : TRIPLANE.  A fixed wing aircraft with three vertically stacked wing planes.  TRANE COMPANY makes heating and air conditioning units for homes.

20 A. They may coordinate with floor mats : SEAT COVERS.  Automotive interior accessories.  SEARS is a chain of department stores founded in 1886

29 A. Bedstead part : FOOT BOARD.  Bedstead is a word you don't see every day.  It is the framework that holds the box springs and mattress.  At a minimum, there will be a head board, FOOT BOARD and side rails of some nature.  FORD is a venerable maker of automobiles and light trucks.

45 A. In the opposite order : VICE VERSA.  Silly me.  I thought this was about DF poetry.  But no, it's a reversal.  You can call me collect and VICE VERSA the charges.  VISA is an American-based multi-national financial services company.  Per Wikipedia, they "do not issue credit cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers; rather, Visa provides financial institutions with Visa-branded payment products that they then use to offer credit, debit, prepaid and cash-access programs to their customers."   

58. Some deal closers : HAND SHAKES.  One of my musician friends just got stiffed on a HAND SHAKE agreement.  His advice, and I think our in-house legal staff would concur, is to always get it in writing.  HANES is probably best known for their undergarments, but they also make other types of clothing for men, women, and children.

62. Hit-by-pitch consequence : DEAD BALL.  Baseball.  DEAD BALL is a type of official time out, when the ball is not playable, and runners may not advance farther than they are forced.  In the hit-by-pitch situation, the hit batter is awarded first base.  A runner on that base advances to 2nd base, but no farther.  Runners on other bases stay put until play is again commenced.

Each company name consists of either 4 or 5 letters.  The 4 letter names are parted 2 and 2, while the 5 letter words are parted either 2 and 3 or 3 and 2 - as close to the middle as you can get.  The six theme entries are arranged symmetrically, with the unifier in the middle.  It's a pretty elegant construction.

Hi, Gang - Jazzbumpa here.  Let's see what else we can find.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

L. A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging - Wednesday, November 18, 2015 Gary J. Whitehead


17. Lose it : HAVE A CONNIPTION.   Equivalent slang expression.

24. Lose it : HIT THE CEILING.    Equivalent slang expression.

35. Lose it : GO APE.   Equivalent slang expression.

41. Lose it : THROW A TANTRUM.  Equivalent slang expression.

55. Lose it : FLY OFF THE HANDLE.   Equivalent slang expression.

Hi gang, JazzBumpa here, having way too much fun with this one.  Lots of anger in this theme.  Let's see if we can stay on an even keel.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

L. A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging - November 4, 2015 Kurt Krauss

Theme:  DUPES.  The first word of each theme answer is a synonym for some kind of easily targeted victim.  

16 A. *Sneaky blow : SUCKER PUNCH.  A SUCKER is a gullible or easily deceived person.  The related PUNCH is a cowardly hit, often from behind, delivered to an unsuspecting opponent.  

55 A. *Peanuts : CHUMP CHANGE.  A CHUMP is a foolish or easily deceived person.  CHUMP CHANGE, aka peanuts, is an insignificant amount of money.  But, insignificant to whom?  YMMV.

10 D. *Place for brooding : PIGEON COOP.  Nice word play.  Brooding is the hatching of birds' eggs, and, in another context, thinking deeply about some troublesome matter.  A PIGEON is someone easily swindled, or the victim of a con man.  Cf Bernie Madoff.

26 D. *"Walkin' After Midnight" singer : PATSY CLINE. Ms Cline provides our theme song.  

A PATSY is someone taken advantage of, either by cheating or taking the blame for something. Again, YMMV, but for my money this is the only theme answer that really closely corresponds to the unifier fill.

35 A. Easy mark ... and a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues : FALL GUY.   A scapegoat.   I don't really see a FALL GUY as an easy mark for a swindle - though all the other theme entries do fit that description.  So the whole thing seems a bit askew to me.  Or am I being too persnickety?

Hi Gang - JzB here, taking the FALL on another Wednesday.   My nits aside, this is a nicely constructed puzzle, with a pinwheel theme arrangement and the unifier in the middle.   Let's take a spin and see what else we can uncover.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

L.A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging - Al Hollmer and C. C. Burnikel

Theme: ON THE BEACH.  The first word of common two-word phrases is, as we shall see, also the name of a specific U. S. BEACH.

Today's Theme Song

17 A. Dodge Chargers, e.g. : MUSCLE CARS.  These are American made high-powered two door vehicles that not only look the part, but perform it as well. 

MUSCLE BEACH, located at the south side of Santa Monica Pier, is known for its gymnastics and physical fitness activities.

25 A. Hyundai's home : SOUTH KOREA.  The country of origin for this vehicle.  At this point you might think we had an auto-related theme, but it was not to be.  

SOUTH BEACH is a major entertainment destination, high rent district and jet set playground on Florida's Atlantic coast near Miami.

35 A. Warm underwear : LONG JOHNS.  Full body underclothing.

LONG BEACH Is a city in Los Angeles County, CA.  Can anyone figure out why it is so named?

49 A. Easter season feast : PALM SUNDAY.   This is a moveable feast falling the Sunday before Easter and marking the beginning of Holy Week.  It celebrates the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on a donkey, symbolizing peace.

PALM BEACH is the easternmost town in FLA, located on a 16 mile long barrier island.  

And the unifier -- 60 A. Shindig by the shore, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 25-, 35- and 49-Across : BEACH PARTY.

Hi gang, Jazzbumpa here, playing life guard today.  Happy to have the unifier, since I was asea without it.  Interesting entry by our fearless leader, along with long-time Corner regular and nautical expert, Al, aka Spitzboov.  Congrats on your first puzzle, Al!  Now, let's all have a stroll along the BEACH, get some sand between our toes, and see if we can avoid getting it in other places.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Six Word Saturday

Just got back from eastern Pennsylvania.

[only a six hundred mile drive]

[we have three grandchildren living there]

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

L.A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 Howard Barkin

Theme: TIME OUT FOR HOCKEY SEASON.  And just in time, as the first of the regular season openers occur tonight, with the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary flames hosting the Vancouver Canucks. Seven more games follow on Thursday.  My beloved Red Wings don't open until Friday, when they host the Maple Leafs [which I saw referred to as a dysfunctional organization with a psychotic fan base] now led by former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.  

Today's theme entries are all hockey infractions.  Hockey is a rough, physical game, but there are limits, at least in theory.  For a minor penalty, the offending player is given a 2 minute time out, and his team mates must play a man short, either for the duration, or until the other team scores.  For a major penalty, the duration is 5 minutes and the team with the man advantage may score as many goals as they are able to. The team with the man advantage is said to be on the power play.  

17 A. Sleeping in the great outdoors, e.g. : ROUGHING IT.  AKA camping.  Not a lot of fun in the rain.  After camping with me one time, the LW made a strong case about the virtues of indoor plumbing.  In my role of excellent husband, I take such things very seriously.  The ROUGHING penalty involves excessive physical contact.

23 A. Making sense : HOLDING WATER.  Indicates a sound concept, by analogy to a bucket that does not leak.  The HOLDING penalty involves grabbing the opponent's body, equipment or clothing.

38 A. Fair odds : FIGHTING CHANCES.  This indicates a possibility of success, given sufficient effort.  The FIGHTING penalty is the only major on today's list.  Often they cancel, since it generally takes two to tangle; but uneven numbers sometimes participate, and actual melees have been observed at times.  With this kind of variability, it is possible for one or both teams to end up one or two men short while the penalties are served.

49 A. Airport agent's request : BOARDING PASS.  This is what gets you onto the plane.  The BOARDING penalty involves pushing an opponent violently into the wall surrounding the skating surface, while he is facing the wall.  This is often a blind side hit.

And the unifier -- 60 A. Hockey punishment for the starts of the longest across answers : PENALTY BOX.  This, also known as the sin bin, is where the time out is served.  

There are many more ways to go wrong in a hockey game, and you can read about them here.  And it can get a whole lot worse.  The Shark's infamous repeat-offending goon Raffi Torres has now been suspended for half the season due to a brutal hit to the head of Anaheim Ducks player Jakob Silfverberg in a pre-season game.  Torres received three penalty calls on the spot, and the longest suspension in hockey history after the league review.

Hi gang, JazzBumpa here to referee this match.  Let's strap our skates on and get going.

1. Great Salt Lake component, to a chemist : NACL.  NaCl outside the all caps world of puzzles, is the chemist's symbol for sodium chloride, common table salt. I know this 'cuz I are one.

5. Moved for a better view, in a way : SAT UP.  More of a posture adjustment than a movement.

10. Lucy's partner : DESI. Lucille Ball and DESI Arnaz.  He is known to have had many other partners [in a DF kind of way,] a serious drinking problem, and a tendency to smoke way too many Cuban cigars. 

14. Fairy tale villain : OGRE.   

15. Yoga position : ASANA.   

16. Pair in a loaf : ENDS.  I take it this is referring to the heels on a loaf of bread

19. Big East or Big South org. : National Collegiate Athletic Association

20. Generation : AGE.  With baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and millenials, this is the AGE of generations.

21. Org. recommending flossing : American Dental Association.  

22. Like many stunts : RISKY.   If they were safe, they wouldn't be stunts.

28. In the past : AGO.

29. Start of a spelling rule broken by deists? : I BEFORE E.   The word "deists" cleverly illustrates the breaking of the given rule.  I'm very cool toward self-referential clues, no matter how clever.

33. Flooded : AWASH.  Inundated, and one of the dreaded a-words.

36. Bring __ a substitute : IN AS.  Rather an awkward partial.

37. Co-star of Burt in "The Killers" : AVA.  Ms. Gardner plays Kitty Collins opposite Mr. Lancaster's Ole "Swede" Anderson in this suspense thriller based on a story by Ernest Hemingway.
42. Prefix with fold : TRI-.  Three panels and two folds, common in poster boards, pamphlets, and paper towels.  

43. "I get the idea!" : OK, OK.  Seems a bit impatient.

44. Skeptical : LEERY.

45. Guard : SENTINEL.

48. Korean automaker : KIA.  The name more or less translates as "Coming out of Asia."

54. Adolescent sidekick : ROBIN.  The Boy Wonder, associated with Bat Man.

57. Indifferent response : MEH.

58. "I did not need to know that" : Too Much Information.

59. Letter-shaped building part : I-BAR.  Metal beam with an I-shaped cross section.  Not this guy.

64. Narrated : TOLD.

65. "State of Affairs" star Katherine : HEIGL.

66. Clanton foe : EARP.  As I reported here, back on May 13th,  The EARP brothers, Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt along with Doc Holliday were on one side against Billy Claiborn, Ike and Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury. The combatants were only a few feet apart, and the incident was over in a matter of seconds.  It took place at a narrow vacant lot next to a photographer's shop, not at or adjacent to the eponymous corral. Probably the most famous gunfight in the history of the old west, but it was not well known to the American people until 50 years later.

67. Jazz finale? : ZEES.   A call out to me?  I suspect not, since it is a self-referential description of the last two letters of the word.

68. Schmoes : DOPES.  Stupid or obnoxious people.

69. Leaf support : STEM.  Plant life details.


1. Ravi's musical daughter : NORAH.

2. Disco era suffix : A GOGO.  Term borrowed from the French, originally meaning something like "in abundance," later indicating a suggestive style of dancing.

3. Mean : CRUEL.

4. Wing alternative : LEG.  Chicken or turkey parts.

5. Flatly denied it : SAID NO.

6. Hit __: experience delays : A SNAG.  Anything holding up progress.

8. One at the front? : UNI-.  At the front = prefix.  

9. Butter serving : PAT.  

10. "Meet the Parents" actor : DENIRO.

11. Contents of some envs. : ENCS.  Enclosures enclosed in envelopes.  So much redundency; so few words.

12. Neb. neighbor : SDAK.  South DAKota.

13. "Do as __ ..." : I SAY.   I hear this in my dad's voice.

18. __-Ashbury: San Francisco section : HAIGHT.  Hippy hang out, back in the day.

22. Court official : REFeree.

24. Smidgen of spice : DASH.  Ask the Mrs.
25. Take the top medal : WIN GOLD.  Olympically speaking

26. By surprise : ABACK.  Unexpected way to be taken.

27. New Age musician John : TESH.  John.  I'm not linking.

30. Compete in a heat : RACE.  Heats are the preliminary rounds.  What were you thinking?

31. At any time : EVER.

32. "Nothing to it!" : EASY.

33. Siesta hrs. : AFTS.   Afternoons.

34. Charging cable, e.g. : WIRE.

35. Not fer : AGIN.   Down-homish vernacular for pro and con.

36. Graphic novel artist : INKER.  Not an adult getting paid to color, as you might expect.  The INKER interprets and embellishes the original pencil drawing.  The colorist applies color.

39. Isle of Mull neighbor : IONA.  Inner Hebrides islands.  Iona is a small island just west of Mull, home to about 200 people.  It is known for it's tranquility and natural beauty, and serves as a location for religious retreats and tourism.

40. Land : ALIGHT.  

41. Tide type : NEAP.  The tide just after the first and third quarters of the moon, when there is the least difference between high and low levels.

46. Classic Fords : T-BIRDS.   The T stands for THUNDER.

47. Accelerator particle : ION.   Used in high energy physics.

48. Mournful tolls : KNELLS.  The ringing of bells, as at a funeral.

50. Physical likeness : IMAGE.   A picture or sculpture.

51. Chance to swing : AT BAT.   Baseball, not Hockey's FIGHTING penalty.  Every time a player completes a turn batting, that is considered a plate appearance.   There are several events in which a plate appearance happens, but not an AT BAT  These include a base on balls, hit by pitch, sacrifice bunt or fly, and some other rare occurrences.  Most batting stats are based on AT BATs. 

52. Three-ingredient treat : S'MORE.  Graham cracker, chocolate and toasted marshmallow.  A treat best enjoyed around a camp fire while ROUGHING IT

53. Common dinner hr. : SIX PM.

54. Nabisco cracker : RITZ.

55. Concert reed : OBOE.  Most common X-word music maker.  The orchestra tunes to it.  

56. About 500 pounds of cotton : BALE.  Heavy.

60. Scholar's deg. : PHD.   Doctor of Philosophy in some specialized field.

61. Want-ad abbr. : EEO.  Equal Employment Opportunity.   Refers to laws prohibiting discrimination.

62. Quick drink : NIP.  Or a sip.  Take your pick 

63. Aye or hai : YES.  That's agreeable, in both Scotland and Japan.

Do you say aye or hai to this puzzle?   I have my nits, but won't call any major penalties.   Here's hoping your team wins all its games - unless they're playing my team, of course.   Now it's time for me to skate off into the sunset.

But first an aside, re: the Oxford comma.  In my usage, it occurs when I'm demarcating a list of multi-word phrases, as in the DESI comment at 10 A, but not when I'm demarcating a list of single word items.
Cool [on ice] regards!