The Confusion (from August 29th)

9 across: Old money extending speech centre in school (7)

Umm, dunno.

6 down: A-la running shoes, spiked? (5)


1 down: Hermit suggests element of 2- 25-down (televised host)? (9)

OK, a televised host is an anchor, but I can’t explain the ite in anchorite, the answer.

8 across: Want leader to come last with 5- 25-down (Media Watch host) (7)

The answer is Ackland. Other than his being a Media Watch host, does anyone know why?

10 down: Spooner’s two Australian golfers joined 5- 25-down (Media Watch host) (4, 5)

The answer is Paul Barry, so Craig Parry is one of the golfers referred to, but the other?

A Saturday DA (from the 29th of August)

RC and I got together at Il Fornaio on Saturday and we squinted — Saturday crosswords are smaller. Nevertheless, even with the smaller space available, we managed to get through it well enough after having spent a reasonable amount of time staring at a blank crossword trying to work out the theme.

Solving 12 across revealed to us the theme (gold from French gave the answer away) and RC immediately licked his lips with excitement. We had to cheat a little and do some research despite our fondness, especially RC’s, for the theme, nevertheless 9 across and 6 down remain unsolved:

DA Media Watch week

Overall, though, we agreed that this was a more run-of-the-mill DA, one which we certainly appreciated but did not relish.

Fridays Without DA…

So it’s happened here a week later than it did for our New South Welsh compatriots: DA is now Saturday’s beast.

Sure, DS is a pretty good crossword compiler, and today’s clue regarding Kublai Khan and blank verse was DA-esque in quality, but DS ain’t no DA.

Although me and the crew don’t usually attempt DA on Fridays, I will miss having the opportunity of sizing DA up before the weekend hits, of staring in amusement at a bunch of indecipherable clues — and often indecipherable instructions — in gleeful expectation of what was to come over coffee with mates.

And perhaps most worryingly: waiting until Monday for the answers will hurt.

The Gold of the 21st of August

2 down: It helps to erect vicarage minus church involvement? (6)

Yet another cheeky direct clue, with a ridiculously good anagram formation: vicarage minus church involvement = via grace minus ce involvement = via grace – ce = viagra = it helps to erect.

16 down: Cryptic end of idle boozer — idle with a capital I (8)

Very clever double use of idle: end of idle boozer — idle with a capital I = e + sot + Eric = esoteric = cryptic.

3 down: Made calls for redhead, roughly (4, 6)

I love a good piece of slang in my crossword: redhead, roughly = ranga + round = rang around = made calls.

27 across: Style of cold welcome, rejecting twit (7)

And here’s another bit of slang: cold welcome, rejecting twit = c + hi + rejecting nong = chignon = style.

20 down: Handy in ideal zoological division (6)

I thought this was a mistake before I realised the genuis: handy in ideal = h and y in plum = phylum = zoological division.

5 down: So-called goof accepts alien flag (4, 5)

Nice aural indicator and clue combination: so-called goof accepts alien = so-called blooper accepts et = blueper accepts et = blue peter = flag.

13 down: Torture those who once rated us civilly? (10)

You repeat a word enough, and sometimes it reveals hidden meanings, much like the answer to this one did when I was asking RC how it could be explained: those who once rated us civilly = water board (they issued us with rates) = waterboard = torture.

A Rarity: A DA Error (from the 23rd of August)

15 across: Prize awarded in or about the late 1930s (9)

The clue is supposed to work prize awarded in = edwardian = about the late 1930s.

I’m willing to concede the American spelling of prize instead of the Australian prise, but in no way, shape or form are the late 1930s Edwardian.

Clearly a slip up, and one that happily happens only rarely.

Complete Bullshit (21st of August)

1 across: Hung around hot poet recital (7)

This one is hot poet recital = h + ovid recital = hovered = hung around.

Now, ovid aurally, to my ears at least, sounds very little like the overed in hovered. DA is usually pretty good with the homophonic clues, and he still continues to be, because overed and ovid are in no way homophones and this clue counts as bullshit.

Update: The internet tells me Ovid is pronounced Ov-id, not O-vid, as I assumed, so this doesn’t count as bullshit after all and in future I swear to research before besmirching DA’s fine name.

A Golden Nasty (from the 21st of August)

18 across: Snow boarders, perhaps, sell wax by drop in supplies (5, 7)

Here, we’ve got sell wax by drop in supplies = vend + wax – x + in serves = seven dwarves = Snow boarders.

Now, this one is gold because of the direct clue, which is gloriously oblique.

Nevertheless, it’s exceptionally nasty for the following three reasons:

  1. Snow White was the boarder of the seven dwarves, and in typical language-bending fashion, one could call the seven dwarves boarders because they are doing the boarding, much like a person who is running is called a runner (hat tip to RB for coming up with that interpretation);
  2. Snow is the first word of the clue, so it’s not immediately apparent that the s in Snow is capitalised because of its referring to a person;
  3. although Prince might not need any other name (he was born Prince Rogers Nelson), no one has ever referred to Snow White as Snow.

The New South Welsh fight for JUSTICE!!!

DA fans know no borders, and when any of us are wronged, we must all fight until justice is delivered.  This post is to act as the nerve centre, the war room of the NSW fight against moving DA to Saturday.

Imagine having to wait until Saturday, and then having to juggle the demands of the working week with the words of DA in your mind.  Impossible!  I’m not sure exactly how to declare a fatwah, but here goes:

DAKHBAAAAAaaaaa!!  Attack!

Please discuss plans for militant action and diplomatic subversion below.

What the ! … ?

Wow, what a weekend it was.   With all that controversy, my original questions got a bit lost.  I thought I’d start a new post for ongoing discussion about “!”, “?” and “…”.


I, RC, think that this should be a judiciously used indicator of &lit clues, the Grange Hermitage of the cryptic.  I love cryptics because of the wild, no-rules mind games that can be played within the clues.  No rules, except for the two UNBREAKABLE rules – that there is a direct and an indirect clue, and that the direct clue must in some way touch the beginning or end of the clue.

Like all good unbreakable rules these do get broken, chiefly by &lit clues.  I think “!” needs to be used carefully, so that the solver knows when the usual rules will be bent.  I accept RB’s comment that DA does occasionally use the “!” for less-than-pure &lit clues, but they’re usually &lit-ish.

In short, I don’t mind it being used on clues other than the Grange, but other compilers tend to throw it at the Banrock Station cask (of which I am actually quite fond).


MF brought up problems with the “?”, but I tend to agree with DA and RB that it “is often used for pun clues, or oblique definitions.”  Having ranted about “!” above, I dont think you can use the “?” as an &lit indicator, and I don’t recall it being used without “!” to do so.

In a non-Age/SMH crossword I did a long time ago, I saw “?” used to indicate “Y”, I assume as in ?=why=Y.  I dont remember where I saw it though.


I know this is one of AS’s pet topics.  I tend to think of it as indicating where reading  on to the next clue might be amusing, but I think it can get used to indicate the need for the next clue’s answer.  I’m not sure about it, but I’d love to hear all your comments.