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Diabolically Arcane

Bingo. You’ve reached David Astle dot com, a carnival of words, puzzles and more words. Welcome aboard, and have fun.

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Crosswords emerged 100 years ago. Cluetopia is one mad time-trip from jails to jungles, in search of the best crossword stories.

Yuletide Spooning [BB491]

21 December, 2014

Spoonerise your two answers to create opposites. Eager/brain, say, is KEEN/MIND (mean/kind). Keen minds will conquer all twelve, and still have time to bake the Christmas pudding.

DA1 - fib/garden tool

DA2 - sense/garden tool

DA3 - crib/grip

DA4 - spiel/callow

DA5 - glum/chief

DA6 - schooled/cloak

DA7 - altitude/tax

DA8 - louvre/bumper

DA9 - moonlike/sleaze

DA10 - plunge/ushered

DA11 - plague/thump

DA12 - core/staff


BB490 SOLUTION: Ritz, Flag, Raffles, Peppers, Ibis, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Clarion, Best Western, Four Seasons, Statler & Waldorf

Ad Breaks

16 December, 2014

For our final Storm of 2014, let's get commercial, dropping ads into words and phrases, names and titles. Or to be more precise: AD. Anywhere. Up front, down back, or in your target's midst, add AD and give new meaning to your choice.

Due to the range, this Storm will naturally take two forms. Either you present a pair of words - one intact, one with AD. Or you present a person or title, with AD added, and give us a comic summary. Here are both styles:

Esteem swamp = ADMIRE MIRE

President's pervs? = LEADER'S LEERS


Lana Del Ready > improv actress

Miami Advice > Slip, slop, slap

Fun enuf? A breezy prelude to X-day. Here's my kick-off:

DA1 - Stick this spot!

DA2 - Confined quintet

DA3 - Access quest

DA4 - Cat field?

DA5 - Old agent

DA6 - Bright & happy

The Truman Shadow - the legacy of Harry S

Radio Grande - boombox

Sex, Ladies & Videotape - pornucopia

Have fun. And may peace and pleasure be yours this Xmas.

WoW: Lalochezia

15 December, 2014

LALOCHEZIA [LARL-o-KEZ-ee-uh] - Emotional relief gained by vulgar language, or an outburst of swearing [Greek, lalia - speech, chezo - to relive oneself] One means of mitigating one's curglaff [see last week] is via lalochezia.

Holiday Hotels [BB490]

14 December, 2014

Your TWELVE answers embody a dozen well-known hotel chains. (Care to set a new list involving another related set of brand names or businesses?)

DA1 - Salted cracker

DA2 - Tire

DA3 - Lotteries

DA4 - Bombards

DA5 - Wader

DA6 - Furniture designer

DA7 - Berlin musical

DA8 - Antique trumpet

DA9 - High Noon?

DA10 - Pizza variety

DA11 - Muppet Show grumps


BB489 SOLUTION: Pro/contestant, pro/conduct, con/profession, pro/concession, con/progress, pro/contract, con/profusion, con/proscription, pro/constitution

Elk Cackle

12 December, 2014

For some Friday follying, how about we solve (and invent) mini-palindromes? Just two words only, with names legit, and lengths optional. A fish fanatic, say, would be a TUNA NUT, while a deer laugh is an ELK CACKLE.

Get a titter from these, and see if you can make your own, using your byline and numbering so we can track solutions. To lift the level of difficulty, there's no need for word lengths, with the only proviso that all answers own two words.

DA1 - Dense filth

DA2 - CEOs cry

DA3 - Brazil underbelly?

DA4 - Regal lubricant?

DA5 - Note umps

DA6 - Big jewel

DA7 - Small barbarian?

DA8 - NASA merch

Raey - Year in Review

9 December, 2014

2014 is three weeks from its finale - the ideal time to parade a few headliners and events from the last 12 months. Below you will find space probes and deadly microbes, plus a lot of names and events in between.

Who can clue'm best? (Definitions are optional.) Feel free to add your own nominations too - from heroes to villains, grand occasions or turning points. And thanks for a vibrant year at DA.com too, especially considering my MS truancy over recent months! Here's to a bigger, bolder, more inspiring 2015.















Let's make merry in the nearing silly season.

WoW: Curglaff

8 December, 2014

CURGLAFF - the shock you feel when entering cold water [Scottish dialect, of obscure origin] Bondi Icebergs know all about the curglaff factor in June.

Pros and Cons [BB489]

7 December, 2014

Juggle a PRO with a CON – or vice versa – to make today’s nine answers. Persuades states, say, is convinces provinces. Each answer is a two-word phrase with no prescribed order for the PRO- or CON-versions. (And can you add any more to the list?)

DA1 - Christian quiz player

DA2 - Good behaviour?

DA3 - RC career

DA4 - Parade privilege

DA5 - Summit headway

DA6 - Extend agreement

DA7 - Pandemonium

DA8 - Whitlam Act of 72

DA9 - Moll make-up?


BB488 SOLUTION: Peckuliar, gestickulate, matrickulate, deckadent, rackonteur, spectackular, specktacular forensick, deducktion

Huh 46

5 December, 2014

Sifting through some old UK puzzles last night and came across a few clues that still leave me grasping, even with the answers timidly entered. Maybe you can help shed some light and/or devise some alternative clues for the same answers. By all means!

1. Look to step on garden tool always wanting revenge at last its best served cold = GAZPACHO [Times 9784 - there's GAZE & HOE & cold soup...]

2. Topping one found after look round double edge of pizza? =  PEPPERONI [Same puzzle, similar anguish]

3. Redecorated skips one time in New York, say, most colourful = REDDEST  [Times 9808 - is 'time in New York' = Eastern Standard Time. Meh, and huh, all in one.]

4. Response from Brussels? = ECHO [Magwitch in the Tele - EC home perhaps? Pretty flimsy. When does HO = Home?]

5. Spring without the first sign of any precipitation? An unwelcome twist = SPRAIN  [Almost there with  9836 - but can't quite see the water for the rain.]

6. Dangerous driver squashes fox over area = TOAD [Mr Toad was a highway terror. And area = A, but then 9841 has me flailing.]

7. Soldier on exercise shot reserve = NONPAREIL [Same puzzle, but here the migraine's more acute. Got an Aspro?]

8. School without publicity pressing to change corpulence = PUDGINESS  [Origins unknown, and ditto for the wordplay's workings.]


2 December, 2014

Love that word: AMBIDEXTROUSLY. Can you see why? Keep looking, and I'll tell you later in this post. 

Meanwhile, another Enigmatist clue, another challenge, this time involving both hands. The clue wnet this way: Reverse sides of glass cart = TUMBREL, where the L and R of TUMBLER are switched to make the vehicle. Tough but classy clue. Enigmatist is always an innovative challenge. 

So what say we swap hands in other words, where LURE can be RULE, or even just BLAND turns to BRAND? Rather than concoct cryptic clues, let's clue our various doubles, entailing a single (or double) swap, or an internal switch. RUNG can become LUNG; BERRY can turn in BELLY; or LEVER into REVEL.

So then, here's my batch, as soon as I tell you AMBIDEXTROUSLY holds 14 unique letters:

DA1 - Delay total (5,5)

DA2 - ABC DJ sycophancy (6,6)

DA3 - Film comic heckler (7,7)

DA4 - OK weapon (5,5)

DA5 - Phonebooth? (6,6)

I'm handing it to you now... Any others?

WoW: Griffonage

1 December, 2014

GRIFFONAGE - illegible handwriting [From French griffoner, to scrawl] GPs are notorious for griffonage which only qualified pharmacists can decipher.

Enigmatick [BB488]

30 November, 2014

Different sort of puzzle this week, more pun-fest than the rest.  If a punchy thinker is Sockrates, and a giant jail is a titanick, can you insert a new K behind a C to make nine more ‘partickular’ puns? You have each neo-word’s length.

DA1 - Odd kiss (9)

DA2 - Point with a rod (12)

DA3 - Graduate from Hogwarts (12)

DA4 - Indulgent cards (9)

DA5 - Snooker story-teller (10)

DA6 -Extravagant pin (12)

DA7 - Extravagant grain (12)

DA8 - Bored of CSI (9)

DA9 - Bird loss (10)


BB487 SOLUTION: Out of: condition, circulation, practice, control, kilter, reach, pocket, wedlock, court, fashion, money, character. (Other outs could be in.)

Ice Cube Clues

25 November, 2014

It's a rare clue that deserves its own post, and brainstorm. But that honour falls to The Guardian's Enigmatist from a few weeks back (26043) when he presented this novelty:

Mass of cold meat from skinned ribs succeed fantastically (3,4)

Only thanks to a few cross-letters did I suspect ICE CUBE, but how. Then I spotted the devilry, with 'ribs succeed' successively losing their 'skins'. The fantastic upshot of IBUCCEE, of course, is ICE CUBE.

Wow. That's one rare reductive anagram technique, in a stylish seamless clue. In tribute, can we duplicate a similar feet, even using a single fodder-word to strip. Like this:

Cat suffered vertigo endlessly = TIGER

Trying a weaker two-word version:

Cat stirs legs, bare and free

Jeez it's a tricky recipe. No wonder it's rare. Kudos to John Henderson (aka Enigmatist) for daring to dream such mischief. See if we can add to the marvel. 

Salon 52 - Rustling Crows

24 November, 2014

Radio puzzles bring enigmas to life. Closer to Christmas I'll be doing a regular spot on Summer Breakfast with Radio National, as I'd hinted in an earlier post. Right now, aside from writing on riddles, I'm trying to devise smart sonic recipes for the wireless.

One idea is converting notable names to noises. Russell Crowe, say, could be rustling paper + cawing. Maggie Beer? A warble + an ale being poured. While Chopper Read can pair a helicopter with a flute (reed/read - homophones are fine). 

For a prize, who can you add? Bonus points if the celeb is Australian, but that's not vital. Surnames are fine too, like Turn-Bull, or Springs-teen. And share any variations you fancy. (I'm still musing H/Amish B/lake as something worth wangling - or toying with titles: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.) Anything that has a comic/sonic potential is welcome.

The prize is perfect for silly season too - The Biggest Riddle Book in the World, with over 2000 thigh-slappers for that cute-annoying child in your life.

Speaking of riddles, I'm heading back to the manuscript: 75 chapters down and 25 to go. Mini-chapters, I should add, with Santa my deadline. Ho-ho-ho, gotta go. Have a wordy week. 

WoW: Dehisce

24 November, 2014

DEHISCE [de-HISS] - to burst open, such as seed capsules; to gape [From Latin, hiscere, to gape or yawn] Many Australian plants depend on fire for their pods to dehisce.

Extractions [BB487]

23 November, 2014

If RIN is ‘out of print’, and VOU is shorthand for ‘out of favour’, how many more common ‘out of’ phrases can you elicit out of this dozen? In some case, an alternative solution is not of the question.

1. DIT

2. CUL

3. TIC

4. NTR

5. LTE

6. ACH

7. CKE

8. DLO

9. URT

10. HIO

11. ONE

12. HAR


BB486 SOLUTION: Over & out, up & about, up & under, in & away, up & down, off & on, through & through, out & out (and perhaps inside & out). 


21 November, 2014

Liquored. Tipsy. Lubricated. Legless. We've all been there, some of us [hic] a little more often than others. Which is why a linguist like James Harbeck on his Sesquiotic blog has supplied a drunken synonym for each day of the year.

Check out the full list here. There are some gems, like Moulin Rouged, trashato, nicely irrigated and cabbaged. Or my favourite: jober as a sudge. Plus this sozzled slew below. With definitions optional, can you craft a deliriously good clue for any of the hammered horde?













And if you drink and clue - you're an damn eejit. Cheers!

Stroke Victims

18 November, 2014

Not that we wish ill on anyone, here at DA.com, but imagine what a life-changer a stroke would be....on your name. In one pen swoop, the bushranger Ben Hall could be Ben Halt, while Harold Holt could be Harold Halt. (If this damn font allowed for orthodox a's, at any rate!)

To make things clear, the stroke action can change:

o > a, b, d, g, p or q  

l > t

n > m

v > w

Is that all? Think so. Let me know if that table can be extended. Then turn to the game, supplying a clue for your manipulated VIP. So if a scandalous leggie is Shame Warne, or a super-quick archbishop is George Pelt, who are these stroke victims? (The last answer cops two strokes.)

DA1 - Muscular greenie (3,5)  

DA2 - Russian tricycle-writer? (3,7)

DA3 - Dark-horse TV anchor (6,8)

DA4 - Eccentric country singer (5,6) 

Can you strokify any notable name?

WoW: Paraesthesia

17 November, 2014

PARAESTHESIA [par-uhs-THEE-shee-uh] - medical term for pins & needles, or any other peculiar tingling [From Greek, para, disrodered + aisthesis, sensation] Languish for too long, and you'll pay for your stasis with paraesthesia.

Mystery Couples [BB486]

16 November, 2014

All today’s answers involve related pairs. It's up to you to plumb the connection, and then devise whether any more twosomes can be added.

1. Radio sign-off

2. Awake

3. Bomb

4. Rugby evasion

5. Sporadic (2 answers)

6. Utterly (2 answers)

Any other related doubles to mention?


BB485 SOLUTION: Full Metal Jacket, Rear Window, Das Boot, Hairspray, Duck Soup, Like Water For Chocolate, Paper Moon, Moonstruck, Space Jam, Iron Man, Coffee & Cigarettes, Blade Runner, Soapdish, Milk

This month's winner

Well done to Sam for his Emmy makeover in our latest Storm, turning Best Actresses into the best wordplay, and winning a copy of Superstar Crosswords.



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Recent Comments

Summer Stumpers

Anywhere near a radio from Dec 22, try tackling my daily Radio National puzzle at 0650 hours. (Sorry - I know that's early...) With modest post-budget prizes part of the pageant.

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