Puzzles, posts, news and general word-chat.

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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WoW: Dogwash

15 January, 2019

DOGWASH - any unappealing task that you seek to avoid or postpone. [Office jargon of 2010s, linking to the tedious chore of shampooing the shih-tzu.] Collating receipts for the quarterly BAS is a classic dogwash.

SK's Salute to 2018

15 January, 2019

Long-time cluesmith SK - part of the Big Issue's puzzle stable - has put together a stylish salute to the year fast diminshing in our rearview mirror. What scandals will get the nod? Which headlines? Game-changers?

Only way to find out... A big thanks to SK for this original puzzle, with one of the year's deftest anagrams included, plus a raft of other fine red herrings. Share your insights and responses in the thread. 

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WoW: Verbigeration

8 January, 2019

VERBIGERATION [ver-BIDGE-uh-ray-shun] - obsessive repetition of random words. It is similar to perseveration, in which a person repeats words in response to a stimulus. [From Latin verbigerāre "to exchange words, converse"] Verbigeration is a close clinical cousin of echolalia, both serving as salient symptoms of mental illness. 

WoW: Trudgen

1 January, 2019

TRUDGEN - a form of breaststroke, developed from sidestroke. A scissor kick is performed on every second stroke. [Named after John Trudgen (1852-1902), an English swimmer who popularised the stroke.] Diving into clue-crafting, can you avoid GRUNTED as the obvious blend of TRUDGEN?!

WoW: Pisgah sight

27 December, 2018

PISGAH SIGHT [pis-GAR] -  distant view (as of an unobtainable objective) [Reference to Moses who saw the Promised Land from Mt. Pisgah in Palestine, according to Deuteronomy 3:27]. Wishful thinkers may succumb to the Pisgah sight of a more glamorous or affluent existence.

WoW: Finifugal

19 December, 2018

FINIFUGAL [fin-nee-FEW-guhl] - despising - or seeking to avoid - endings; regarding one who seeks to prolong the final moment of a story, conversation or trip. [From Latin fini-s end , plus fug-a flight + -al] Most readers turn finifugal when savouring an engrossing novel.

WoW: Sphenisciphile

11 December, 2018

SPHENISCIPHILE [sfen-ISS-ee-file] - lover or ardent defender of penguins [Derived from the penguin's zoological order, Sphenisciformes + phile (lover)] Curiously, a sphenisciphile is also deemed to be an admirer of nuns.

WoW: If-By-Whiskey Speech

5 December, 2018

IF-BY-WHISKY SPEECH - political address where the speaker's position is contingent upon the listener's opinion; a relativist fallcy [Based on a 1952 speech by Noah 'Soggy' Sweat Jr, a Mississippi lawyer who demonised and canonised liquor, dependent on the audience's views] "If by whiskey," orated Soggy in this recreated video, "you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge..." 

WoW: Menehune

29 November, 2018

MENEHUNE [menn-uh-HEWN] - a mythical dwarf race who lives in the hinterland valleys of Hawaii [From Hawaiian] Stonemasons of the highest quality, the menehune are shy, secretive and adore bananas.

WoW: Voldemorting

22 November, 2018

VOLDEMORTING - choosing alternative words or code-names to denote a certain celeb or site, in order to subvert their status or avoid data-mining. [After JK Rowling's evil wizard, 'he who shall not be named'] Birdsite (Twitter) and the Human Cheezel (Trump) are both examples of Voldemorting.

WoW: Apotropaic

15 November, 2018

APOTROPAIC [app-oh-TROH-pay-ick] - perceived as having the power to ward off evil influences or bad luck. [From Greek apotropaios ‘averting evil’, from apotrepein ‘turn away or from’ + -ic.] Jennifer Egan in Manhattan Beach describes wedding rings (on conference weekends) as apotropaic.

WoW: Rückenfigur

2 November, 2018

RÜCKENFIGUR  [ROO-ken-fig-uh] - compositional device in painting, graphic art and film where a person is seen from behind in the foreground of the image, contemplating the view before them. [German - back-figure] The rückenfigur can highlight the beyond as well as deepen the depicted viewer's own mystery.

WoW: Anemotropism

22 October, 2018

ANEMOTROPISM [aah-NEE-moh-trop-iz-uhm] - change in the growth or shape of an organism due to the wind's influence. [From Greek anemo - wind, plus tropism, a variant of tropos, or turn.] Anemotropism is in ample evidence along the ridges of gust-prone peaks. 

WoW: Tussenvoegsel

15 October, 2018

TUSSENVOEGSEL [tuhs-en-FERG-zel] - the intermediary name in Dutch that lies between a person's first name and surname, such as the von in Vincent Van Gogh, or the van in Martin van Buren. [From Dutch, literally, between-grout.] Often the tussenvoegsel enters sharp focus in English when debate surrounds capitalisation.

WoW: Xerostomia

8 October, 2018

XEROSTOMIA [zeer-oh-STO-mee-ah] - excessive dryness of the mouth [From Greek - xero (dry) + new Latin - stomia (of the mouth)] Poor salivary function, due to ageing, disease or hangovers, will result in xerostomia.

WoW: Parablepsis

1 October, 2018

PARABLEPSIS [par-ah-BLEP-sis] - sample of a ill-copied piece of transcript, where the scribe has misread the original text, skipping a word or line. [From Greek - paraleipsis, to look askance at, literally beside-sight.] While recording this definition from a lexical source, I took pains to avoid a parablepsis.

WoW: Jenny Haniver

24 September, 2018

JENNY HANIVER [jair-NEE HAN-uh-vuh] - any mummified stingray or skate that's been manipulated to mimic a demon or dragon. [Possibly a corruption of 'jeune d'Anvers' - or 'youth of Antwerp' - by Cockney sailors during the 1500s.] The macabre Jenny Haniver is part of the broader scrimshaw tradition. 

WoW: Barathrum

17 September, 2018

BARATHRUM [BAH-ah-THRUM] - abyss; hell; glutton - one with a bottomless stomach. [From Latin barathrum, from Greek barathron; akin to Greek bibroskein to devour] Any winner of a hotdog-scoffing marathon is a card-carrying barathrum. 

WoW: Agelast

10 September, 2018

AGELAST [adj-AR-luhst] - one who doesn't laugh; serious or overearnest soul. [From Greek agélastos - “not laughing, grave, gloomy"] Going by the arid prose of Hegel, the German philosopher was liable to be an agelast.

WoW: Enantiodromia

5 September, 2018

ENANTIODROMIA [ee-NANT-ee-oh-DROMA-ee-uh] - the tendency for things to become their opposites; the concept that an abundance of any force can cause an opposite reaction. [From Greek, literally ‘running in opposite ways’.] Carl Jung coined enantiodromia, identifying how one mental state is as likely to suggest or manifest the other.

Rewording The Brain

Focus & memory, lateral leaps & logic - every aspect of cognitive health is lit in Rewording The Brain, a book revelling in how puzzles boost your brain. Part 2 equips your brain to conquer any twisty clue, plus the wild crossword finale. Pop science meets neural gameplay, Rewording is rewarding, and out now.

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Rewording The Brain

Care to renew your noodle? Rewording The Brain explores the latest neural studies, seeing how puzzles (and twisty clues) boost your neurons. Part 2 helps you crack such clues, and prep the grey matter for the crossword showcase to finish. More here

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101 Weird Words (and 3 Fakes)

From Ambidextrous to Zugwang, this mini-dictionary teems with rare or alluring words, plus bonus riddles, puzzles and fun word-facts. Dictionary detective will also nab the collection's three fakes. Ideal for late primary schoolers, or word-nuts in general.

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Gargantuan Book of Words

Sneeze words. Fake pasta. Viking slang. Gargantuan is a jumbo jumble of puzzles & games, mazes & quizzes, tailor-made for that wordy wonderkid in your life. Or anyone in love with letters, secret codes, puns, rhymes, emoji & all things languagey. More 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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