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.

Loading tweet...


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.)

comments powered by Disqus

Gargantuan News

Yep, my Gargantuan Book of Words is big & full of words. Not just English but secret codes, Papuan pidgin, Zulu worms, sound FX, funny goldfish, letter origami. You get the drift? It's big. It's fun. And it's out now


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 

read more +


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. 

read more +


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.

read more +

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
See Results