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Diabolically Arcane

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Lewd Clues

26 July, 2016

Got nothing on? Feel like a hard one? Cor, that's a bit saucy - and so's this week's prize-offering Brainstorm, where we get a chance to lace a little blue into each clue. Innuendo. Wink-wink. Raunch or steam. Anything that errs on the prurient side - so long as the clue is capable of appearing in a mainstream paper

(That proviso alone should cause mass debate....) But let's give the salacious a whirl, using the target words from last week's Targetism - your ten proper answers we get to make improper this week -

The prize? Why, a collection of double entendres called It Just Slipped Out by Russell Ash. So please create a louche alias - to ensure clean judging - and try your hand at  blue clues, where the best pair (of course) wins the book.

Both wordplay and definition are required. And please - to help my umpiring - select your own best double and file them as your submission before Thursday, 6pm. Enough of the oral. Let's get down & dirty to thrash things out:













Your dirty dozen awaits ravaging. Enjoy yourselves.

WoW: Doryphore

25 July, 2016

DORYPHORE [DOR-uh-for] - persistent critic or heckler; grammar Nazi [From French doryphore (alias Colorado beetle) from Greek doruphoros (spear carrier). Writer Harold Nicolson lent the insect its current sense.] Working on radio, you grow familiar with every doryphore who wishes to amend your expression.


22 July, 2016

There's a Facebook group called TARGETISM which wangles the daily Target puzzle. The game is to ignore MOUSTACHE, if that's the intended answer, and offer a surreal alternative, with its own definition.

ACME SHOUT, say, is a yodel. While OUCH TEAMS are rugby squads, just as MOUSE CHAT is eek-speak. Beware: the game is as silly as it is addictive. 

Bruce Ashley, who hosts the site, sent me some of the recent smile-worthies:

CORGI OMEN - dogstar

HILLICKED - conquered a knoll

I FLY ERECT - you can't keep a good man down

As you can see, you own the licence to coin a word, or fudge a phrase of any word count. The art lies in combining a fresh find with a comical definition.

Your Friday Folly is a two-parter in fact, where you can seek the genuine 9s in each mix below, as well contriving an alternative. Get cocktailing.














Who will prove the GEM ARTIST of TARGETISM?

Has#tags of 2015

19 July, 2016

Like me, you may well feel nostalgic for 2015, back when chaos seemed almost finite. So it is, in a retro Storm, we consider the top nine hashtags of last year. Can you clue them, or create a joyous distraction from this year's lot? Mind you, the more I muse the list below, the more I wonder whether anything has really changed?

Enough gloom. Let's light it up with some cryptic dazzle! Who can make the most heavenly hash of today's Net-nonet?




istandwithahmed (after schoolboy Ahmed Mohamed who was arrested for making a clock for his science project)


FIFAWWC (the women's world cup)



lovewins (marriage equality in USA)

The nine are all yours to clue. So #gowild.

WoW: Evitate

18 July, 2016

EVITATE - to avoid; to escape [From Latin evitare, to shun] Debtors are prone to evitate their creditors.


12 July, 2016

Perhaps you are among the few un-swept-up by the PokemonGo mania. (Where's your civic esprit, damn it?) If that's the case, then aim your hunting skills onto this Oddish batch of first-wave Pokemon, to see where the best wordplay potential lies.

No call for a definition. We know what they are (sort of). And if you'd like to plunder a longer list, then PokemonGo here. Here's the dozen I hunted down as our own quest's kick-off:













Don't have to clue'm all. But let's see who wins the Pokemon d'Oro.

WoW: Scoville scale

11 July, 2016

SCOVILLE SCALE - the pungency measure of chillis, peppers and curries [Named after US pharmacist Wilbur Scoville who devised his potency index in 1912.] HP22B - alias the Carolina Reaper - is rated as the hottest chilli pepper (at 1.57 million!) on the Scoville scale.


5 July, 2016

This may not work. We can only try. But due to the finely balanced shemozzle we now own for a federal parliament, let's split words down the middle and clue both halves. As with this post's title - marg/inal - choose words that divide evenly, and don't create a smaller word or words.

So no pig/eon, or ances/tries etc. But more parli/ament and stu/dio stuff. Once you make the split, your challenge is to create the neatest pair of wordplays for both bits. Like so:

DISG/ORGE - Digs Gaga / fake leader fled

RAMSH/ACKLE - Sheep squash boundaries / expert grasps folklore by heart

Like I say, the game is flaky, and may not appeal to every appe/tite, but I reckon there's some fun in the format. Not to mention the scope to be creative with potential splicings of the two halves in your clueplay.

And again, speaking of that stu/dio, I will be a tad cameo this week due to more radiophonic duties on 7774ABC Arvos. If you get a chance between 1-3, tune in. Or text in if you dare. Enjoy the exper/iment.

WoW: Uberisation

4 July, 2016

UBERISATION - conversion of existing jobs and services into discrete tasks that can be requested on-demand [After the ride-sharing business model created by US entrenpreneurs Garrett Camp & Travis Kalanik in 2009.] Owners of dress boutiques decry the uberisation of their industry, thanks to online rental services.

Alarming Marginals

28 June, 2016

Storm time, and this week we apply the oxywelder to those incumbent candidates in the marginal seats - both Coalition and Labor reps. Get used to these names, as come Tally-Room Telly, you will hear plenty more about their fate.

So here's the dozen, the first six above the line are Libs, while the next six are Labor, all 12 currently holding their seat by their fingernails. With no need of definition, can you compose a classy clue for any candidate?

(And please excuse my cameo role this week online, as for the next 2 weeks I'm hosting Arvos on ABC 774 Melbourne, filling in for Clare Bowditch. Tune in between 1-3 to hear me learning on the job.)














Exercise your democratic panache, and clue away.

WoW: Pygmalionist

27 June, 2016

PYGAMALIONIST - someone who adores their own creation [After the sculptor Pygmalion from Ovid's Metamorphoses who fell in love with his own sculpture.] Professor Henry Higgins is the best known pygmalionist, becoming besotted by his protege in Eliza Doolittle.

Tapped Out

24 June, 2016

This Friday's folly relies on an upcoming Wordwit puzzle, due to appear in a month or more. The gist is to remove both taps (C and H) from one word to create the other. That word may be the first or second, which makes way for such clues as:

Despising incubation = HATING HATCHING

Tar trap = PITCH PIT

Note how both examples use CH as a cluster, in that order. But to crank up the heat, feel free to spread the taps - turning CRUSHES into RUSES, or CLOTH into LOT. (So long as we adhere to the C/H sequence. Yes I know most bathrooms offer the reverse, but CH allows for more fun!)

DA1 - Cartography?

DA2 - Bierkeller?

DA3 - Commit ID fraud?

DA4 - Spoilsport smile

DA5 - Tacky sets

DA6 - Old coin kerfuffle 

DA7 - Shiny city

DA8 - Fitter episode?

DA9 - Green fuel expert

Can you chisel through these answers and/or hatch you own examples? Please use you byline and number to help us keep tap the forum.


21 June, 2016

Double-definitions are a good way of cracking open any crossword. The clues are often short - sometimes only two words - while the recipe is luminous. Besides that, most crosswords carry at least one example. 

Yet far fewer puzzles can boast a triple-definition, let alone a quadruple. Yet I stumbled across both specimens in my recent solving adventures, and thought their excellence could inspire this week's Storm.

Here are the two clues, the first from Screw, the other via Bonxie:

Cares for more than one behind loomsREARS

Hit victim behind target = BUTT

Talk about bum steers! Derrieres aside, these are two fine clues, dabbling in that rare space of manifold definitions. 'Butt' - can we match the marvels? Who can conjure the best triple-header (or beyond)? Kick ass.

WoW: Gorodki

20 June, 2016

GORODKI [gaw-ROD-kee] - Russian game akin to horseshoes, where a player hurls a bat towards wooden pins at a distance. [From Russian, literally 'small city' in reference to the clustered target.] Check this link to see how the gorodki skittles can be arrayed into cannons, forks, lobsters or crankshafts.

Meh 23

17 June, 2016

Time for a whine - my sporadic post under the Meh banner. This is where I single out clues for their outstanding underwhelmingness, and see whether you see things otherwise. My cause for carping is (in brackets) beside each clue, with a standing invitation for you to differ, or at least compose a better clue for the same solution.

And a warning of sorts - the first five mehs hail from a single puzzle, set by Logodaedalus. Clearly not a crossword for the poolroom:

1. This may indicate someone elderly or dull = GREYNESS (As a silvered bloke myself, I find this colourist and banal.)

2. Boring solid material needed for this type of wall = DRY STONE (Stone = stone in both wordplay and definition: a petrified hookworm.)

3. Dance and vibrate in sleazy bar = RHUMBA (Not only the rarer spelling, but a dud anagram signpost. Sleazy?)

4. Busily working? It's tough to keep a bird = HARD AT IT (Hard is another hookworm.)

5. Prisoner is at home with a friend = INMATE (Mate, as above. What a weary clue.)

6. Classy footballer’s wife = POSH (Tramp, how else did Victoria Beckham get her name? Then there's the sexism vibe, where she is only defined via he....When all the while there was Old Spice to consider!)

7. Isn’t Web a wonderful place to leave rubbish = WASTE BIN (Love this Times clue except for the wonky anagrind. Why not chaotic? Fractious? Strange?)

8. Censor’s one to author one who supplies standup material = GAG WRITER [Brummie is often excellent, but this is misfire, with a overlapping use of writer.]

Are you with me? Do you feel me? Or am I being peevish? And please light up our Friday with finer clues of your own to arrive at the same answers.

Yoo-Hoo Clue Coup

14 June, 2016

This week's Storm is built on a whim - and relies on your vim What are the odds of making a clue where one word in either the definition or wordplay elements happens to rhyme with the answer? Sure, a camel is a mammel, while quiver means shiver, but I'm sure there are more subtle means of implanting a rhyme in your work.

Testing the water, here's my initial splash:

BEARD - Face up to weird bread

COLLAPSE - Dog that's escaped niche, perhaps, in cave

                   [COLL/ie + APSE]

STEINBECK - Novelist suffering neck bites

Better still if I could manage a complete rhyme for Steinbeck (wine tech, mine wreck...) but that's your challenge: how well can you weave wordplay around a solution rhyme? Now's the time. Have fun, everyone.

WoW: Esquisse

13 June, 2016

ESQUISSE [ESS-kiss] - preliminary freehand drawing of an intended picture, model or sculpture [From French, via Italian, shizzo, literally 'sketch'] Matisse resorted to an esquisse before embarking on his canvas.

WoW: Kakiemon

13 June, 2016

KAKIEMON [ky-KEE-mon] - Japanese porcelain featuring intricate enamel decoration [From designer Sakaida Kakiemon (1596-1666) who developed the art form.] The artist Kakiemon was probably not born Kakiemon, as his court name emerged in honour of his exquisite persimmons [kaki] painted in the earthenware. 

Juvenile Delinquents

7 June, 2016

Some two years back, a setter called Cincinnus stripped a juvenile. At least the compiler for the Financial Times opted for this clue:

Expose juvenile delinquent, avoiding extremes (6)

The answer is UNVEIL, the core letters of juvenile on being delinquent. We've seen this trick before but I thought the device might be a worthy Storm focus. Can you create a stylish clue with a matcing recipe?

The art lies in the story you tell on the surface, and what words you select. Here are some opening bids:

ANGORA - Skinned kangaroo used as wool source

TIE-INS - Poor Einstein flayed selling gimmicks?

BEMOANS - Regrets exposure of James Bond corruption

As you can see, using names (or two words) is OK. So long as the trick dwells on the shucking of skin, and the manipulation of the remainder. While I may be off-grid for most of this week, taking a hike literally, I invite you to unpeel and get surreal. Who shall be exposed as the finest stripper among us?

WoW: Feldenkrais

6 June, 2016

Feldenkrais [FELL-den-KRISE] - system of aided movements aimed to increase your bodily awareness and ease tension. [Trademark after Israeli-Ukrainian physicist Moshé Feldenkrais, who pioneered the techniques in the late 1940s.] A simple Feldenkrais workout claims to ease back pain and alleviate muscle stiffness. 

Wordburger Awaits!

Welcome all puzzle-lovers, including any chompers of the Wordburger book or app. (Check them out if you enjoy words & trickery.) And if you still crave more alphabet mischief, click on the burger icon above for a fresh serve.



Packed with games, pickles, codes and cheesy puns, Wordburger is your chance to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites. Ideal for wordy kids keen to open a new language door, or grown-ups who want to cut their cryptic teeth. Click here. 

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Riddles in song, in code, in pictures. From Ireland & Wonderland, Einstein & Pompeii. Riddledom reveals 101 wry questions from 50+ languages & shares their secrets. A book to unlock culture via conundrum. Order here.

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Cluetopia roams the planet – and century – to find fresh crossword stories in 30+ languages. From shipwrecks to hoaxes, Cluetopia is a holiday for the head. Buy here.

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Recent Comments

Riddledom Rave

If you missed my riddle chat with Richard Fidler, then feel free to slurp the podcast at http://ab.co/1I9t1x5

Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
OBVS I'm fine with it
Entrenched stuff - like LOL and OMG - but no more.
Words With Friends, maybe. Scrabble, no
Let the 'real' dictionaries decide first
Just the handy stuff, like FAQ and EUW
I mean, WTF?! No way
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