Zwieback #atozchallenge


Almost done!

Zwieback (source:

When you were a baby, did your mom give you zwieback? It’s more popular in Europe, but they sell it in this country, and parents frequently give it to teething babies to give them something to gum on. It’s a sweetened bread that’s been sliced thin and toasted twice until it’s brittle and crunchy. The name comes from German, “zwei” meaning “two” and “back” meaning “baked.” The word biscuit means the same thing, from the Italian “biscotto” (“bis” twice, “cotto” baked).

I think the only time I had zwieback was when one of my friends had a baby sibling at home. He had this habit of taking the baby’s zwieback for himself. One day I was at his house. He went into the kitchen, came out with two pieces of it and handed me one. Turns out they were the last two pieces, and his mother was not happy. It might have been because he left the empty box in the pantry, I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed, and felt bad that the baby had to go without.

The Wikipedia article about zwieback says that it’s similar to Melba toast. I know I’ve had that before. Have you ever been to a restaurant where the bread basket is filled with crackers and such wrapped in plastic? There are usually a few packages of saltines, some packages of bread sticks (plain and garlic), one or two packages of Melba toast, some garlic rounds (as the name suggests, thy’re round crackers that are garlic-flavored), and usually one or two packages of Ry-Krisp, which looks and tastes like acoustical tile or packing material. You could always tell when the Holton boys were at one of those restaurants: there were empty wrappers all over the table and on the floor.

And that’s my final entry in this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Hope you enjoyed it!


Zyzzyva #atozchallenge


So, we’ve wrapped around. As promised, when I got to Z, I’d end the word with A. I considered a bunch of words here, including Zola (for Emile), Zorba (the Greek), zebra, and zinnia, but somehow I knew I could do much better than that.

A zyzzyva, as Wikipedia tells us, is a long-snouted beetle no longer than an ant, found in tropical America around palm trees. Its name is more noted for being the last word in many English-language dictionaries, just as Zeke Zzzzypt was the last name in the Chicago white pages for years.

Zyzzyva is also the name of a literary magazine based in San Francisco. They publish the magazine three times a year and focus primarily on underrepresented authors. Their About page tells us

Every issue is a vibrant mix of established talents and new voices, providing an elegantly curated overview of contemporary arts and letters with a distinctly San Francisco perspective.

And, if that wasn’t enough, Zyzzyva is a free word study program made available through the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA). Written by Michael Thelen, it’s now maintained by the NASPA Zyzzyva Committee. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux environments, and I understand there might be an iOS version, though it evidently doesn’t run on iOS 10. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t tell you how it works, but if you like studying words and/or playing Scrabble, it might be worth a look. Have I mentioned it’s free? The current release is 3.1.0, which includes the OTCWL2016 and CSW15 word lists. The app has a Facebook page and can be found on Twitter as @ZyzzyvaApp.

And that, my friends, brings us to the end of this year’s A to Z Challenge, for me, anyway. I’d like to thank my fellow cohosts, Arlee, Heather, J, Alex, Jeremy, and Csenge, and especially I’d like to thank everyone who made this year’s challenge the best yet, particularly those who stopped by and left a comment. You made my day. See you next year!

Z is for… #atozchallenge


Zeibekiko: “To Zeibekiko Tis Evodokias,” with Manolis Karandinis playing the bouzouki and some unidentified dancer putting on the show. That’s not paper on the floor, it’s pieces of broken plates. Back when I did the letter G I mentioned that zeibekiko was a free-form dance done by men, although there were a number of videos I found that were saying that women (and quite attractive women at that) were doing it. Turns out, they’re doing the feminine version of the dance, the tsifteteli, which is more like a belly dance. Maybe the ladies in the videos were doing the zeibekiko after all. Whatever…

Zither: Anton Karas playing the theme from “The Third Man.” Along with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, the music is a star of the movie.

Zydeco: Wikipedia tells me that zydeco music is a combination of blues, rhythm & blues, and music indigenous to the Louisina Creoles. I had to look it up, because I didn’t know the formal definition of it. I did know it by the sound, and that’s what’s important. Chief instruments in zydeco are the accordion (button or piano) and the rub-board, a wearable washboard you play with two old-fashioned bottle openers. Don’t know what this song is, but watch this couple cut a rug…

Zappa: As in Frank Zappa, the late musician and philosopher, who once said that most people wouldn’t know good music if it bit them in the ass. Read kind of a sad story today that the family is feuding over the estate now that Frank’s wife Gail has died, preventing son Dweezil from calling his current tour “Zappa Plays Zappa.” All I can figure is, if Frank knew they were fighting over the estate, he wouldn’t have left one. “Peaches en Regalia,” from Frank’s 1969 Hot Rats album, has become something of a jazz standard in the forty-plus years since it was released.

ZZ Top: This Houston-based power trio has been around since 1969, fer cryin’ out loud. Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums, ironically the only member who doesn’t have a beard) do some of the best straight-ahead blues-rock at high volume I’ve heard. This is a live version of “La Grange,” their first hit and the first song by them I heard many years ago.

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

And that, my friends, caps off the A to Z Challenge for both my themes (portmanteaus finished six hours ago) for 2016. Thanks to all of you who visited me for the first time during the Challenge, those who subscribed to the blog, and those who left comments. Thanks also to my minions and to the other co-hosts of the A to Z Challenge for making this a fun time for all, myself included. It’s now 1:30 Eastern Daylight Time where I am, leaving me a good day and a half to answer your comments and reciprocate your visits before I have to put on my writin’ hat again.

Keep an eye on this space May 9 for the announcement about the A to Z Reflections posts, where you get to tell the world how wonderful the A to Z Challenge is and to tell us what we’ve screwed up we can do to make the 2017 A to Z Challenge better and more enjoyable. There’ll also be a questionnaire with more questions than the SAT where you can provide us with feedback on what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what changes you’d make to the Challenge for next year.

That’s all from me. Straight ahead!

#atozchallenge: Zillionaire

zillionaire =
zillion + millionaire


Remember when having a million dollars was a big thing?

Now, a million dollars is nothing. $1,000,000 today was worth $136,644.86 fifty years ago. You’d need $7,318,240.74 in 2016 dollars to equal what you had if you had $1,000,000 in 1966. (Numbers courtesy the US Inflation Calculator.)

(Yes, I know, not everyone lives in the United States. This is just an example.)

We used to look at millionaires as beig ultra-wealthy. Those who had more than a million were multimillionaires. Now, we’re talking about billionaires. I mean, Bill Gates has $75 billion dollars. He’s the richest man in the world. One day we’re going to be talking about trillionaires, and quadrillionaires….

But that’s not important for our purposes. When someone is very, very wealthy, and you don’t know how much money they have, you make up a number. Like a zillion. It’s not an actual number that you can express in 10x format, but everyone understands it’s a lot. In other words, a zillionaire is someone with a zillion dollars.

What did you call your big numbers when you were younger?


And that’s it! My last entry in this year’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge! Thanks for reading and commenting. What did you think of this theme?

Z (#atozchallenge)

So, here we are at the end of the A to Z Challenge for 2015, and at the end of the alphabet with the letter Z, known as “zed” in much of the rest of world.

Z is the name of a 1969 French Algerian movie starring Yves Montand and Irene Papas, directed by the Greek director Costa-Gavras, music by Mikis Theodorakis, adapted from the novel of the same name by Vasilis Vasilikos. IMDb’s logline says “Following the murder of a prominent leftist, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while government officials attempt to cover up their roles.” The whole movie is available on YouTube with English subtitles, broken into 13 pieces. I had a hard time following it, even with the subtitles; maybe you’ll have better luck. Roger Ebert, who had started at the Chicago Sun-Times not long before, proclaimed it the best movie of 1969.


Z, especially three Z’s over the figure of a person lying in bed or with his head on a desk, is a way of indicating that the person is asleep. There might be more than three Z’s, indicating that the person is deep asleep. You might also see a string of Z’s that indicates a pesky flying insect is bothering the hero of a comic.


Remember the old telephone directories? People would go out of their way to be listed either first or last in the phone book. To get listed first, you would precede your name by a string of A’s, as in AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHolton, and to get it listed last, you would have yourself listed as a person whose last name started with a string of Z’s. For years, the last person listed in the Chicago White Pages directory was a man who went by the name of Zeke Zzzzypt. He held the distinction for several years, until Zach Zzzzyzzzzy came along.

Well, that does it for me for this year’s A to Z Challenge. I’ve enjoyed myself tremendously. This was, as I think I mentioned, my first year as a co-host for the Challenge, and I want to thank Arlee and Alex and all the other co-hosts for letting me come in and play with them. I’d also like to thank my minions for the fine job they did checking the blogs that were assigned to me, and for being good people.

And, this wouldn’t be one of the coolest challenges on the entire Internet if it weren’t for people like you, who did as I did and posted 26 entries this month, starting with A on the 1st and ending with Z on the 30th, and who came by and visited and made some excellent comments that made me laugh and made me think. I hope that you will continue to visit me here at The Sound of One Hand Typing or on the simulcast blog, The Sound of One Hand Typing FM. I post at least once a day, and as you might have noticed, I have a few regular features here. Thanks for your support!