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Diabolically Arcane

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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.

Tri, Tri, Tri Again

April 15, 2014 47 comments

tri Today’s Times is a pangram delight, with a surplus of Ks, and a lovely interlacing of the quaint and the new. (And yes, I cracked #8.) Sitting amid this Scrabbly challenge is possibly the best triple-meaning clue I’m encountered. Here it is:

Hear rally vehicle (4-2)

Not just a compact clue, but each meaning of PICK-UP is distinct, the whole combining to tell a watertight story. Which clears the road for this week’s challenge, if you wish to tri. Who can compose the neatest triple-meaner? If anyone can reach the pick-up pinnacle: oh what a feeling.

Some of my early bids:

Sheep strike memory (RAM)
Jargon is unable to incline (CANT)
Remote location for HG, the singer? (MERCURY)

Nowhere near as stylish, highlighting the hurdle before us. Proper names are OK. So too heteronyms, where BOW can be a weapon, or prow, etc. Who will pick-up this week’s triple crown?

Salon 10

April 14, 2014 4 comments

pod Just hopped off the phone, chatting to ABC Radio about bommy knockers. If you don’t know the term, you may know those spiky liquidambar pods by a different name. A good friend calls them prickle bombs, while my family dubbed them maces, or doobs. Did your clan call them something else?

Here’s a another conundrum: What 4-letter word can be duplicated – without its head, then without its tail – to spell a common 6-letter word? for example, if ORDWOR was a WORD, then WORD would be your answer. (I’m pretty sure the answer is unique.)

Aiming for double figures this week on the Times Tally. If I can ‘conker’ today’s puzzle, that adds up to #7. The century is in sight. Feel free to join the challenge at any stage, resisting the temptation of any search engine or reference book.

Or be my guest, and dabble in the clue comps, Birdbrains and Guardian goss here at DA Central. Have a wordilicious week, won’t you?

WoW: Adiaphorous

April 14, 2014 8 comments

ADIAPHOROUS [ad-ee-AFF-er-uhs] doing neither harm nor good, especially of a neutral medicine. [From Greek, adiaphoros, indifferent] A placebo (or a middling Fantasy Football pick) is adiaphorous.

Rental Market [BB455]

April 13, 2014 2 comments

_ If a follower has to fork out ADHE-RENT, and a born natural pays INHE-RENT every week, then what RENT do these lodgers face, using the same linguistic logic? (And can you annex to our rent roll to any extent?)

  1. Mum or Dad
  2. Invisible man
  3. Warmonger
  4. Security guard
  5. Mumbler
  6. Déjà vu sufferer
  7. Parodist
  8. Cold fish
  9. UK river rafter (3 possible answers)

BB454 SOLUTION: Chameleon, chrysalis, aplenty, repechage, forget, cabana, repayable, beryl, imago, bloat

Meh 20

April 10, 2014 9 comments

mud You know I’m a fan of Paul (or Mudd as John Halpern is known in the Financial Times.) But even he can stray into the realm of Meh, those crummy clues which should remain on the drawing board.

Take a look at this latest batch, culled from Brit sources. See if my beefs are warranted, or whether I’m just Mudd-slinging. Give us your counter-arguments too, by all means. (And can you compose sweeter clues for any of these same solutions?)

  1. Dalmatians aren’t so clean = UNSPOTTED [Mudd slips into the mire with this lazy double-def, I reckon.]

  2. Decorator working in part of Paris = TROCADERO [Picaroon insists that ‘working’ works as anagram indicator. Maybe it does. I’m not so quickly sold.]

  3. Dancing king sealion that’s sold by charlatan = SNAKE OIL [Welcome to the cryptic fold, Alchemi – but this surface sense is up the spout.]

  4. As lice sing badly, there are limits! = CEILINGS [Not sure the setter, but this is another stinker – a silly tale, and a redundant ‘as’]

  5. Catch one buried in a book in concert = AT ONE TIME [While Times 9836 sees fit to repeat ‘one’ in the clue. Boo.]

  6. South American sound of person making mark = INCAN [I loathe to speak ill of the dead, but Cinephile – aka Araucaria – oversteps his homophone licence here.]

  7. Possibly Nancy’s unauthorised absence? = FRENCH LEAVE [Yes, I know Nancy is a French town, but I thought this wile needed more guile. From Times 9295]

Argue or agree in the Forum. And who can make a zingier clue for any of the seven answers?


April 08, 2014 23 comments

dot Last night, playing Letters & Numbers at Melbourne Town Hall, I had to grapple with the nine letters above: SINGLEDOT. Bear in mind, this was no conundrum, where a 9-letter word was guaranteed. The battle was to find the longest, such as LONGEST. But was there an 8? Or perhaps a 9…?

Amazingly, the longest words after LONGEST (and SINGLET, and DONGLES, and GLINTED etc) are only a pair of 8s – GODLIEST and SIDELONG. Tricky words both. If you spotted either, then your anagram skills GLISTEN.

But keeping to the letters, this week’s Storm is to clue a word of 5-letters of more that lurks in SINGLEDOT. Feel free to do DINGO, take a stab at STEIN, give TINSEL a try, or engineer EGOIST. The letters are yours to renovate, inspiring the clue you create.

No prizes, no jury – but we shall DEIGN the best as a GOLD LION ONSITE. At the very least, who will conjure the best clue for the 8s – GODLIEST and SIDELONG? LETS GO.

Letters & Numbers Redux (Salon 9)

April 07, 2014 13 comments

landn Melbourne bods, if you’re not so hooked on Q&A, Big Bang reruns or Embarrassing Fat Bodies, then perhaps I have the entertainment alternative. At 9.45 this evening, I’ll be taking my battle-worn, dog-eared Macquarie from its plinth into Late Night Letters & Numbers at the Town Hall. And if that won’t stir you from the couch, then come see Lawrence Leung impersonate Lily Serna at the very least.

In other news, I’m copping a dental drill this morning, and then off to play with words at the U3A in Doncaster. A busy day of fillings, follies and fill-ins.

Wordwise, I came across this site of British bingo slang, with David Beckham (7) and Cameron’s Den (Number 10), and wondered if there were any Australian additions we could make? Not just rhyming slang, but any cultural references to numbers? Collingwood six-footer (59)? Baggy Green (11)?

As for my Times Quest, if WIFI is not part of Saturday’s challenge, then I’m back to square one this Monday, having stalled late last week. Oh well. Better to slip now than later. The challenge to join the brain-game remains open. Can we solve a soaring tally of Times in a row?

WoW: Eglomise

April 07, 2014 6 comments

EGLOMISE [EGG-low-mise] – to decorate or gild the back of a glass sheet [From French decorator Jean-Baptiste Glomy – 1711-1786 – who pioneered the technique.] Nowadays we tend to eglomise glass-fronted kitchen cupboards rather than rood screens.

Fruit Salad [BB454]

April 06, 2014 7 comments

fruit If a cored GUAVA is a GUVA (losing its middle letter), or a cored LYCHEE is LYEE (losing its inner pair of letters), then what cored fruit can replace the X’s to make words? (No mixing needed. And note – the letter/s lost make up the fruit’s precise pith.)

PS – in case you’re wondering: no genuine Xs appear. (And what other nobbled nibblies, or similar twiddled sets, can be constructed? Feel free to set a fresh list.)

  3. XNTY
  5. FXT
  6. CAX
  8. XL
  9. IX
  10. BX

SOLUTION NEXT WEEK BB453 SOLUTION: All 12 movies are based in Melbourne: Death in Brunswick, On the Beach, Dogs in Space, Any Questions For Ben, My Year Without Sex, The Wog Boy, The Castle, The Club, Monkey Grip, Romper Stomper, Look Both Ways, Love and Other Catastrophes (Kenny, Malcolm, Noise, Proof, Spotswood). Other flicks may fit the bill.


April 04, 2014 34 comments

pirate As solvers, we rely on the penny to drop. And today, in this week’s Friday folly, we need the penny to drop as cluemongers.

No need for cryptic tricks here – just think of a word or name that makes a new word once it loses its P, for Penny. Cranky buccaneer, of course, is an IRATE PIRATE, while cider could be considered as APPLE ALE.

That’s right, your P word can be first or last, just as you can lose one or several Ps. Sound like a game? Let’s lay.

DA1 – Nonsense playwright
DA2 – Incumbent leader
DA3 – He-tree
DA4 – Reducing spray
DA5 – Juicy fruit
DA6 – Glare?

Do we need words lengths? If so, then oblige, lease!

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

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jpr on Tri, Tri, Tri Again

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Sam on Tri, Tri, Tri Again

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Quick heads-up. Fair bit of tranny work over the next week, with a lunchtime chat (12:30 or so) this Wednesday on Triple R just the start of the domino chain. Tune in there, and drop in here for more alerts.

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