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, July 30, 2014

L.A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging

 Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Gareth Bain

Theme: I GIVE UP.  The last words of the theme entries are indications of surrendering, so as to avoid suffering further damage.  Your opponent wins, and - if he is honorable - you get to go somewhere safe and lick your wounds. 

17 A. Stereotypical benefactor : RICH UNCLE.  Literal or figurative designation for financial backer.  I only had poor UNCLES, alas.  To cry "UNCLE" indicating submission, may or may not go back to ancient Rome.

36 A. Of age : OLD ENOUGH.  Having been alive for a sufficient period to drink, drive, vote, know better, etc.  "ENOUGH" indicates you don't want any more of whatever your abuser is dishing out.

42 A. "Understood" : SAY NO MORE.  OK - I got it.  "NO MORE" is another way of saying "ENOUGH"

And the unifier -- 62 A. Waved banner hinted at by the ends of 17-, 36- and 42-Across : WHITE FLAG.  This usage does go back to ancient Rome, and also the Han dynasty of China.  In modern times, the use of a white flag to indicate surrender is included in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907

Hi gang, it's JzB, after a long hiatus, reunited with Gareth on a Wednesday.  We never can get ENOUGH of his puzzles, so I am not going to give up.  Let's SAY NO MORE on that topic, and dive into the solve.


1. Prepare, in a way, as sweet potatoes : MASH.  We add a bit of butter and sour cream.  Makes a nice companion dish for Gloria's orange and maple glazed salmon.

5. Says further : ADDS.  The opposite of SAY NO MORE.

9. Run away, say : REACT.  I suppose one could REACT to an unpleasantness by running away, but, unless I'm missing something, this is a far from obvious connection.

14. Entrepreneur's start : IDEA. Around which a business plan can be built.

15. Come together : MEET.

16. Come to pass : OCCUR.   Near clechoes.

19. Spherical dessert : BOMBE.  An Ice cream dessert molded in a half-spherical shape to resemble a cannon ball.  The only thing that explodes is your weight.

20. Airport city east of Los Angeles : ONTARIO.   I flew in there about 30 years ago.  IIRC, there are distant mountains in every direction.

21. One brewing in a cup : TEA LEAF.  Not a tempest. Mayhaps Nice Cuppa can provide details.

23. Many a Prado painting : GOYA.   Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828).  Here is the Prado on-line gallery of his work.

25. Baseball card stat : RBI. Runs Batted In.  BASEBALL!!!

26. Oranges opposite? : APPLES.  Different, for sure - but opposite?  Doubtful, but I won't let one bad APPLE spoil the whole puzzle.

30. "I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee" speaker : LEIA.  Do I need to tell you this is from Star Wars?  Prob'ly not.

32. "__ Boys": "Little Men" sequel : JO'S.  Story of the boys' troubles as adults, and the only Louisa May Alcott novel that has not had a movie adaption.

35. Cowboy's neckwear : BOLO. By now everyone should recognize this as a string necktie.  So here is Bolo Yeung, who might be marginally more interesting.

38. Standoffish : ALOOF.  Remote.

40. Pull : TUG. Yank, jerk.

41. Friendly address : KIDDO.  Seems a bit condescending.

44. Opposite of alway : NE'ERAlway is an archaic form of alwaysNE'ER is a contraction of never, seldom or NE'ER encountered nowadays.   So I guess it's OK.

45. Appt. book divisions : HRS. Hours. N.B. abrvs.

46. Went up : ROSE.  Up toward the sky.

47. Saturated hydrocarbon : ALKANE.  Chemistry.  Saturated means all the available bonding locations on the carbon atoms are filled.  Thus, there are no C=C double bonds in the chain, which would contribute to instability.  The compounds are quite flammable, though.  Propane and butane [ 3 and 4 carbon ALKANES] are examples.  Gasoline is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and additives, containing lots of pentane and hexane [5 ansd 6 carbon ALKANES.]

49. Had-at link : A GO.  Tried something.  I always think of Mitchell Anderson putting his move on Marian Wyman in Raymond Carver's poignant short story Will You Please Be Quiet, PleaseI do not recommend this dry analysis.

50. Trilogy, often : SAGA.  Originally an Old Norse prose narrative of heroic achievement, now any long and involved story.

52. Emcees' responsibilities : LEAD-INS.  Introductions to the main-line performers.

56. Gum with a longtime eyepatch-wearing mascot : BAZOOKA.  But BAZOOKA Joe did not fare well in the rebranding.

61. Calculus pioneer : EULER.  [Pronounced OILER] Leonhard, (1707 - 1783) a highly accomplished Swiss mathematician. I've often wondered why no technical school has a sports team nick-named the EULERS?

64. Ruffle : FRILL.  A a strip of fabric or lace gathered or pleated on one edge, and attached to a garment or other item as decoration.

65. Right hand : AIDE.  Figurative designation for an assistant

66. Ax : FIRE.  Job elimination.

67. Pledge drive bags : TOTES.  Carry-alls.  Also, in contemporary slang, short for Totally.  Habitual users can save as much as 26.6 seconds per day.

68. Apiary dwellers : BEES.  Not apes.

69. Convinced : SOLD.   Are you SOLD on Gareth's puzzle yet?  If not, let's move on.


1. Picasso contemporary : MIRO.   Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Catalan artist who wanted to upset the visual elements of established painting.

2. Score after deuce : AD IN.  In tennis, deuce indicates a tie score after both players have reached 40.  AD, short for advantage, indicates the next point has been scored.  If the server has the advantage it is AD IN, otherwise, AD out.

3. Shakers, but not movers : SECT.  This religious community splintered off from the Quakers in Northwest England in the mid-18th century.  They are known for gender equality and a celibate life style.  Second generation Shakers are thus somewhat rare.  They did give us this nice hymn, here put to good use by Aaron Copeland..

4. "The joke's on you" : HA HA.  Hope you thought it was funny.

5. Prenatal procedures : AMNIOS.  Short for amniocentesis, a rather risky procedure.

6. Deceptive military tactic : DECOY.  A diversionary PLOY.  You can read about it here.

7. "Runaway" singer Shannon : DEL.  Another clecho, and a classic song from my 'ute.

8. "Don't change that" : STET. Editor's mark.

9. Emulate Dillinger : ROB A BANK. I do not recommend this risky activity.  When Dillinger emulator Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he reportedly answered, "Because that's where the money is."

10. Gastroenteritis cause, perhaps : E-COLI.  Bacterium naturally occurring in the lower digestive tract that causes all sorts of problems when it gets into the wrong territory.

11. Pinnacle : ACME.  Apex.  Always need perps.

12. World Baseball Classic team : CUBA.

13. Nonkosher : TREF.  I can never remember this word.  It comes from a Hebrew root meaning something torn.

18. Strong desire : URGE

22. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's lake : ERIE.  In Cleveland.

24. Tempts : ALLURES.  Inspires URGES.

26. Make red-faced : ABASH.  To shame or embarrass.

27. Opposite : POLAR.  Extremely opposite.

28. Artful stratagems : PLOYS.  In A Game of Thrones, Petyr Baelish is the master of these cunning plans.

29. Fish-eating bird : LOON.  It is about the size of a large duck, but they are unrelated species.

31. What a slight favorite has : EDGE.

32. Where Herod ruled : JUDEA.  More old Roman, when JUDEA was a province in the empire.

33. City near the Great Salt Lake : OGDEN.

34. Vacation location : SHORE.  The fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water.  We just spent a week on the SHORE of Black Lake.

36. Plains people : OTOS.  Native American tribe.

37. Farm grunt : OINK.  From the sty.

39. Like pink toys, stereotypically : FOR GIRLS.  Indeed, there are few pink toys for boys., I looked.

43. Word after new or full : MOON.  The orbiting orb, going through phases.

47. Collectible marbles : AGATES.  I remember this term from my 'ute.

48. Kick back : LAZE. You can do this at the SHORE

49. "Chasing Pavements" singer : ADELE. I've heard worse pop songs.

51. "__ With Me": hymn : ABIDE.  I've heard worse hymns.

52. Took off : LEFT.  Departed [but not OFFED.] Split.  Exeunt stage left?

53. Capital of Belgium : EURO.  Money.

54. Landed : ALIT.  Atop something, I suppose.

55. DNA lab item : SWAB.  For collecting bio-samples.

57. Rubs out : OFFS.  Murders.

58. Little of this, little of that : OLIO.  Hodge podge.

59. Auto pioneer Benz : KARL.

60. Like fine port : AGED.  When do we know our port is OLD ENOUGH?  Hmmm.

63. Go in haste : HIE. Quickly, now.

Well, that wraps it up for another Wednesday.  Hope you made it through without having to surrender.
Cool regards!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

L A Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 Robert E. Lee Morris

Theme: An ordinary, unexceptional, prosaic, standard-issue, run of the mill Wednesday at The Corner.  The first word of today's theme entries can be combined with the unifier word GARDEN to present a VARIETY of in-the-language pairings.  Often with this kind of theme the generated phrase is original, clever and humorous.  Today, true to the spirit of the theme, the resulting phrases are of the GARDEN VARIETY.

The unifier first.  36 A. Commonplace, and what the start of 17-, 24-, 51- or 60-Across is : GARDEN VARIETY.  The first recorded use in a figurative sense is from 1928.   The evident reference is to something that might be found in anyone's home garden, hence, not special, unique nor exotic.  The meaning has expanded a bit to imply mediocrity.

17. Green Day's "American Idiot," e.g. : ROCK OPERA.  Released 10 years ago. A sample follows, if you're into that sort of thing.   A ROCK GARDEN, cleverly enough, is an an area landscaped with ROCKs and plants suited to that environment.

24. NASCAR winner's celebration : VICTORY LAP.  One turn around the track at low speed to allow the winner to bask in the adulation of her/his adoring fans.  VICTORY GARDENs were vegetable and herb gardens planted at private residences or public parks in the U.S. and several other countries during WW II.  They took considerable pressure off of the public food supply and contributed to morale on the home front.

51. 1995 Stephen King novel : ROSE MADDER.  Story about abuse, with the main character ROSE Daniels, in which the pigment ROSE MADDER plays a peripheral role.  There are many ROSE GARDENs.  One of the famous ones borders the Oval Office and West Wing of the White House.  It was established in 1913 by First Lady Ellen Loise Axson Wilson.

 60. Spare tire : BEER BELLY.   Two slang expressions denoting excess in the midriff region, aka Dunlop's Disease, 'cuz when you sits down, yer belly done lops over yer belt.  A BEER GARDEN is an outdoor area, usually associated with a pub or restaurant where beer and food are served.  The history is quite interesting.

This clever theme presents us with four quite different VARIETIES of GARDENS.   Mediocre?  I think not.

Hi, gang, it's JzB your humble GARDEN VARIETY trombonist.  Let's see what else Robert has planted for us. 


1. Place to wipe your boots : MAT.  On the floor by the door.

4. Vice squad strategies : RAIDS

9. "Darn!" : SHOOT.  I'm guessing this is a not-quite-sound-alike substitute for a less polite word.

14. Sister of Zsa Zsa : EVA. The third sib is Magda.

15. Flynn of film : ERROL.  Famous buckler of swashes in Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and many more.

16. Main artery : AORTA. Literally, the main artery of the blood stream.

19. Govt.-backed bond : T-NOTET is for Treasury. These notes are issued in terms of 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years.

20. Secretary of the Interior under FDR : ICKES.  Harold L., progressive Republican deeply involved in Chicago politics, who was recruited by FDR to appeal to middle-of-the-road [Garden Variety?] voters.  No politics at The Corner, but you can read about him here.

21. Navel type : INNIE. There are two varieties.  Check them out [or in] here.

23. Commuting start? : TELE. Working from home via an electronic device. 

29. First-class : STELLAR.  The best - probably because this word in its literal sense refers to stars, and they are brilliant.

31. Sales incentive : REBATE.  Money back from the seller can be STELLAR.

32. Send to the statehouse : ELECT.  In this case, as the governor.

35. "¿Cómo __?" : ESTA.  How are you, amigo?  Lots of Spanish today.

41. Shade of green : JADE.  Green-blue hue named for a gem stone.

42. German steel city : ESSEN. This western German city dates from the 9th century.  For the last 400 years it has been associated with the Krupp steel company.

43. __ energy : ATOMIC.  Kinetic, potential, chemical, mechanical, magnetic, thermal -- the list goes on.

46. Sleeveless shirt : TANK TOP.   Here's one in JADE green.

54. Prefix with space : AERO.  A refreshingly honest prefix clue referring to efforts in science, engineering and business to fly in the atmosphere of Earth (aeronautics) and surrounding space (astronautics). [Wikipedia]

55. English Channel port : DOVER.  In a region famous for it's white cliffs, as in this WW II era song.

56. Fashionista Mary-Kate : OLSEN.  I guess M-K and her twin sis Ashley have become celebrities, which one wag defined as people well-known for being famous.

57. Bolt on a track : USAIN.  Love this clue.  Bolt means [among other things] to move fast, and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt certainly does that.

63. Red Sea peninsula : SINAIA region of Egypt between the Red Sea to the south and the Mediterranean to the north.  To the East, it borders Israel.  It is mostly separated from the rest of Egypt by the Gulf of Suez.

64. Pi, for one : RATIO.  Specifically, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

65. Tempe sch. : ASUArizona State University.

66. Prop for a clown : STILT.  Nice double meaning.  Looks harmless.

67. Hacienda brick : ADOBE.  Straw reinforced bricks of clay or mud, dried in the sun.

68. Fall mo. : SEPtember.


1. Inherent rights and wrongs, as of a case : MERITS.  Perhaps our legal beagles can elaborate.

2. Long-legged shore bird : AVOCET.  This had me so stumped for a while, that I doubted the perp EVA.  Finally had to go googling.

3. Take on, as a challenge : TACKLE.

4. Vintage cars : REOS.  It seems that Ransom Eli Olds enjoyed naming cars after himself.  I don't think he has anything to do with this, though.

5. Dadaism founder : ARP.  Jean or Hans, depending on his audience, a French-German sculptor, painter, poet, and abstract artist.  Dada [a word of uncertain origin] rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition.

6. Rage : IRE. Anger.

7. Greek architectural style : DORIC. The plainest of the three classic support column styles.

8. Viewpoint : SLANT.  Everybody has one.

9. "The Colbert Report" stock-in-trade : SATIRE. Political.

10. Winged stinger : HONEY BEE.

11. Gold, in Guadalajara : ORO.  Spanish gold.

12. Polo Grounds hero Mel : OTT.  Most famous crossword baseball player.

13. __ Bo : TAE.  a total body fitness system that incorporates Martial Arts techniques.  This phrase is both a portmanteau and a backronym.  I am not making this up.

18. Ship stabilizer : KEEL. Either the backbone of a ship or a vertical projection from the bottom of a boat.  It lowers the center of gravity to help keep the vessel upright, and also aids forward motion by resisting side-slipping. 

22. "... a borrower __ a lender ...": "Hamlet" : NOR.  I thought it came from Ben Franklin.  Live and learn.

24. Low-lying land : VALE.

25. "Me, Myself & __": Jim Carrey film : IRENE.   I wanted EILENE.  That's my mom.  IRENE is her twin sister.

26. In the cellar, sportswise : LAST.   Surprisingly, where the Red Sox are at the moment.

27. ABA member : ATTYAmerican Bar Association and ATTorneY.

28. Pot pie veggie : PEA.  I like them, but not everybody does.

30. Was in front : LED.  Like the K. C. Royals did briefly in mid-June.

33. Rite Aid rival : CVS.   Drug stores

34. Sample : TASTE.  Is it in good taste to taste a TASTE?

36. Chihuahua cat : GATO.   Mas Español.

37. Ruckuses : ADOS.   Not often seen in the plural. 

38. Like some skill-building classes : REMEDIAL.  These classes are intended to correct a deficiency.

39. __ admiral : REAR.  The lowest of the admiral ranks.

40. Bed-and-breakfast, e.g. : INN.  Establishment offering food and lodgings.

41. Moonshine container : JAR.  I had JUG at first.

44. "Consider the job done!" : I'M ON IT.   As with this puzzle, but I'm not done yet.

45. Cleveland NBAer : CAValier.

47. Cabbagelike plant : KALE.  A leafy green.

48. Electric cars named for a physicist : TESLAS.

49. Ultimatum words : OR ELSE.  Sounds like a threat.

50. Fork over what's due : PONY UP.   The meaning is clear.  The origin - not so much.

52. Actress Winger : DEBRA.  Her break-through role was in Urban Cowboy (1980.)

53. Profound fear : DREAD.

56. Clarinet cousin : OBOE.  I don't think this is valid.  Cylindrical vs conical bore is simply too great a difference in my mind, let alone single vs double reed.  But you can check it out and draw your own conclusions.

57. Naval letters : USSUnited States Ship.  I just recently learned that SS means Steam Ship.

58. Grab a stool : SIT.  In a bar or a barn?

59. "Give me __!": start of a Hoosier cheer : AN I.  For Indiana.  Why Hoosier?  There's more here than I cared to read.

61. WWII arena : ETOEuropean Theater of Operations.

62. Tease : RIB.  Another word uncertain origin, perhaps from something funny being rib-tickling.

Quite a nice puzzle, despite a couple nits, and fun to blog.  Hope you all enjoyed it.

Cool regards!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hangin' With Kirk

 Me with John Stoddard (left) and Kirk Whalum

It sounds like a cliche, but it was a privilege, an honor, and a real delight to spend some time with grammy winning musician and recording artist Kirk Whalum yesterday.  Kirk and his accompanist John Stoddard were in town to perform with the Schoolcraft College Jazz program on Monday evening, and they gave a clinic on Monday afternoon.

There were only about 20 people in the audience, which is shame because this was a great opportunity.  But with such a small crowd, it became an intimate and personal experience - almost like just hangin' out with some friends.

Kirk and John spoke about music as communication than can operate on a different level from human language, and that being able to express yourself in that way is a sacred trust.  This operates horizontally when we transmit or absorb ideas from, or impress or are impressed by other people.  Besides just the notes, consonance, dissonance, the musical context and attitude of the player all come into play.

The language of music can communicate, entertain, and uplift with emotions and feelings that are outside of spoken language or even comprehension.

The horizontal aspect comes to and from each other, from experiences and cultural richness.  In the process we can impress each other, but impressions wear off.   However, it is possible to go beyond that and make an impact that moves someone in a permanent way.

The vertical aspect is more elusive, and has a spiritual component.  Kirk is also an ordained minister, and in his view the kind of inspiration that produces great improvisation comes directly from God.  But to get there, you have to be prepared.  His analogy was that when you put God in the driver's seat, you don't want to provide a broken down 1983 Chevvy.  You want to have a shiny, new Chrysler 300.

The strategy for better inspiration comes from a grounding in fundamentals, preparation and practice.  The fundamentals are your musical vocabulary.  Preparation and practice develop first what Kirk called "head room" -  what an engineer would call a margin of safety: a grounding in fundamentals such that when the moment for vertical inspiration arrives, you don't run out of tools and horse power; and second "working it out."

He emphasized the importance of practicing slow - walk before you run.  The other element is repetition.  This can be the drudgery part of practice, but use your creativity to find a way to make it fun.

In the Q and A, I asked Kirk how an improvisor should approach taking on a new song with a difficult set of chord changes.  He said, first get to know the song - really KNOW that song.  Memorize the melody, feel the chord moments, sing the words.  Then play the roots, in time with a metronome.  A hundred times.  Then play the thirds another hundred.  Then fit in the scales associated with the chords.  Ill throw in that it's also worth while to know the arpeggios.  There is a certain nerdiness to approaching music this way.

Kirk's advice:  Embrace the nerdiness.

Afterward, I shook his hand and told him that I had never heard him before, but within two minutes of when he started talking, I felt like I'd known him forever.  He is a very genuine, well grounded guy, and seemed to be touched by that.