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: Shemagh

19 July, 2021

SHEMAGH [shair-MARG] - Arabian headdress fashioned from a cotton scarf, used to guard against sunburn, sand and dust. [Arabic] Popularised by Yasser Arafat, the shemagh is also known as a keffiyah, a ghutrah, a hattah and a mashadah.

WoW: Talaria

19 July, 2021

TALARIA [tuh-LAIR-ee-ah] - the winged sandals worn by Mercury (and his Greek counterpart in Hermes) as a divine means of speed. [From Latin talaris - of the heel or ankle, from talus - anklebone] The Delta variant of Covid-19 can spread like malaria wearing talaria.

WoW: Kafkatrapping

12 July, 2021

KAFKATRAPPING - opaque procress whereby a citizen can be arrested or detained for crimes that are never specified. [Coined in 2010 by US software developer, Eric S. Raymond in honour of Franz Kafka's nightmarish novel, The Trial] As homeland powers grow in Australia, we may see more instances of Kafkatrapping.

WoW: Gerygone

5 July, 2021

GERYGONE [jair-REE-gon-EE] - dainty, sweet-tuned breed of Australasian warbler [From Greek,  gērygonē - 'born of sound'] Now and then, twitcher chatrooms twitch with pronunciation debates surrounding the gerygone.

WoW: Muay Thai

28 June, 2021

MUAY THAI [MOY tyyy] - martial art known as 'Thai boxing', where fighters can strike their opponent with hands, feet, shins, elbows, and knees [Lit 'Thai boxing'] Queensbury Rules are KO-ed by the ferocity of Muay Thai.

WoW: Hügelkultur

21 June, 2021

HÜGELKULTUR [HYOO-guhl-KULL-chur] - gardening method where a mound  of decaying wood is layered, then covered with soil, to create a fertile bed [From German - literally 'hill culture'] Hügelkultur is viewed as an alternative to composting.

WoW: Brocken Spectre

14 June, 2021

BROCKEN SPECTRE - mountaineering phenomenon where the observer's shadow is eerily magnified against clouds, often ringed by a halo [First cited by Lutheran pastor Johann Silberschlag in 1780, while climbing the Brocken, a peak within Germany's Harz Mountains] A climber can be spooked by divine or alien notions on seeing their own Brocken spectre.

WoW: Eloign

7 June, 2021

ELOIGN [eh-LOIN] - (archaic) to remove oneself (and one's property) to a considerable distance [From Anglo-French esloigner to go far away; related to Latin longē - far.] To avoid the sheriff, a felon may eloign from Dodge City.

Huh 64

2 June, 2021

Another plea for help, with eight cryptic clues that remain evasive in their elements. I have the answer, I reckon, but not every bit of wordplay to get me there. Or a nuance has slipped my grasp.

The first four samples hail from a Times compendium [published 2016], while the rest are from the daily media churn. Any insights would be welcome. And feel free to craft your own clues, using any of the same solutions.

1. Man given short measure = VALET 

2. Simple Simon and what he didn’t have for such a pie = SAPID 

3. Security device for phone one lifts quickly for emergency = SCRAMBLER

4. No persons in part of office = NONE 

5. Sort of terror about to overwhelm modelAS IT WERE 

6. Memorial for Bradley? = HEADSTONE  

7. Camp, say, where you can park for a drink = LAGER 

8. Form of insect – imagines more than one = IMAGO 

WoW: Ruy Lopez

31 May, 2021

RUY LOPEZ - popular chess opening in which White moves king's bishop to the fifth rank; also known as the Spanish opening. [Named after Ruy Lopez de Segura, a Spanish priest who explored chess openings in his 1561 book.] Queen's gambit is a more aggressive opening, compared to the Ruy Lopez. 

WoW: Kebab-case

24 May, 2021

KEBAB-CASE - a coding convention where every word is hyphenated [Named after the  hyphens' skewer-like role, simulating a shish-kebab] Fly-by-night isn't a true example of kebab-case, unless that's a coding instruction for a midnight escape.

WoW: Deontic

17 May, 2021

DEONTIC - regarding the ethics of duty and moral obligation [From Greek deon duty, from impersonal dei - it is binding] People can accept the deontic imperative of lockdown, yet still keep individual concerns about their own mental health. 

WoW: Golconda

10 May, 2021

GOLCONDA - treasure trove; source of immense wealth. [Named after an historic region of southern India, once the hib of diamong mining.] The Koh-i-noor, all 105 carats, was extracted from a gravel claypit within Golconda.

WoW: Houding

3 May, 2021

HOUDING - a painter's or designer's pleasing evocation of space [From Dutch, literally meaning attitude or posture] In the Golden Age of Dutch portraiture, Rembrandt proved a master of houding,

WoW: Dinnyhayser

26 April, 2021

DINNYHAYSER - (archaic Aus/NZ slang) an excellent example; a knockout punch [Origin unknown. Variants include dinnyhazer, dinnyhayzer] Dinnyhayzer is a synonym of bell-ringer in two senses: a knockout punch and knockout example. 

WoW: Juvenoia

19 April, 2021

JUVENOIA - the fear one generation holds towards younger generations succeeding them [A hybrid of juvenile-paranoia] A portion of Boomer critique of the millennial population is fuelled by juvenoia.

WoW: Thomasson

12 April, 2021

THOMASSON - any example of superseded design, often a revamp's leftover, such as a door opening to a wall, or staircase leading to nowhere. (Named by Japanese artist Genpei Akasegawa after US baseball import, Gary Thomasson - a well-maintained but under-serving athlete.) Hyperart Thomasson is Akasegawa's gallery of useless windows and redundant doors.

WoW: Cryptomnesia

5 April, 2021

CRYPTOMNESIA - fresh emergence of a long-forgotten memory as if it were a new experience [From Greek, crypto - hidden, plus mnesia, memory] A form of self-plagiarism, cryptomnesia might see you express a novel idea only to realise it's one you'd earlier published or outlined.

WoW: Descanso

29 March, 2021

DESCANSO [dess-CARN-so] - roadside memorial marking a fatality; any improvised marker honouring where a life was lost [From Spanish - resting place] Bouquets and teddy bears clutter the average descanso.

WoW: Tintookie

22 March, 2021

TINTOOKIE [tin-TUHK-ee] - sycophant; puppet [Australian slang, derived from marionette-master Peter Scriven - pictured - whose creations from the late 1950s included The Tintookies] Dictators tend to surround themselves with tintookies.

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.


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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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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