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Diabolically Arcane

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Newt Ape

2 December, 2011

June 2006 was memorable for two reasons: Tim Cahill scored two late-game goals against Japan, and Joe diPietro created a zoological marvel in his New York Times crossword.

Out of the box, the six themed squeezed two animals beside each other, so creating a bunch of fresh phrases. Here’s what I mean:

Recording of a Jewish leader’s talk? RABBI TAPE

Way back into a boat for a scuba diver? SEA LADDER

One fashioning an auto from clay? CAR POTTER

Fishing device pictured on a name tag? BADGE REEL

Executive group with perfect pitch? BOARD ON KEY

Faucet that disappoints me? TAP I REGRET

So quirky was the puzzle that I dwelt on the idea for years, clearly. Like a tap I regret, the idea dripped in my mind as I wondered what other combinations existed, speculating on the pairings that must have landed on Joe’s drafting room floor.

So let’s contrive our own, treating the folly as a puzzle in its own right. For example, another tack could be:

Polish a sneaky snake? (7/4) = BUFF A LOW ASP (where BUFFALO & WASP combine)

Any more? Make sure you number your suggestions – both the clue itself, plus the coupled creatures – for more merciful solving.

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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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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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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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