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Diabolically Arcane

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21 November, 2012

Maybe the highlight of the year, if not my entire sheltered life. Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Sondheim, lyricist and composer of the first water. He’d made a trip to Melbourne to see his Forum show, and I he spared a brief ‘audience’ in the foyer afterwards. While our handshake was hampered his broken right wrist, I settled for a simpatico southpaw.

Gave him the UK Puzzled too. As soon as he saw the jacket’s check pattern, the maestro’s eyes lit up. Because Sondheim may be feted as the creator of Into The Woods, Sweeney Todd – the wordsmith of West Side Story – but he’s also the man to introduce America to cryptic crosswords. If you don’t believe me, try the man’s first mind-boggler, a themer from 1968.

The cherry on the cake of our foyer chat? The moment Stephen looked at the book, then looked at me, and asked, “So are you a composer?”

Um no, sir. I make crosswords. You compose.

(I’ll be solving Stephen’s debut this week, so feel free to reflect here upon the high notes.)

Welcome to the new forum. Looks scary? It’s not. Feels iffy? It ain’t. The DisQus platform is here to block spam and lend us more chat options. That’s all. Please note, you don’t have to create a DisQus account to make a comment. If you do, however, it will speed your future visits. Be assured no details are abused, misused or reused. Let’s fight spam as one, and get back to the grand conversation. Thanks, DA

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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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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
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