The Confusion (DA on the 30th/31st of October)

In the comments to this post, feel free to ask questions and have clues or answers revealed to you that are full of spoilers.

Update: Here’s what I’m still confused about:

5 down: Fuel up motor during strike to extend preliminary payment (10)
I’ve almost figured it out as up motor during strike to extend preliminary payment = up car during hit to extend preliminary payment = hracit to extend preliminary payment = anthracite = fuel.

The question: how does to extend preliminary payment = ante?

8 down: Wait as leader in African republic demoted fight (4, 5)
I worked this out as as leader in African republic demoted fight = as leader in Ghana demoted bout = hang about = wait.

Problem: what’s the anagram notifier for Ghana? Have I got this preliminary explanation completely wrong?

22 across: Change required in Japan to accept United Nation (6)
Somehow the answer is Sweden. How?

21 down: (crestfallen) 10-across loggers open vessels?
How does one arrive at vessels = ewers?

12 across: Cored apple, perhaps, cheers omelet (8)
I’m guessing I’m a variety of apple away from figuring out why frittata = omelet.

Do You Envy Sydneysiders? (DA from the 30th/31st of October)

As of this week, I thought I might try a new regime: this post, categorised under DA Reports, will be for people to generally comment about things without spoilers until the answers appear on Monday in The Age.

Post Monday, though, write what you like.

Following this will come a post, filed under DA Confusion, for people who want to ask for some cryptic help. The comments on the next post, obviously, will contain spoilers and you view the comments at your own peril (or generous joy for that matter).

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes for a while.

Update: DA outfoxed me yet again:


I did most of this during a Buck’s day-nighter in between drinks, but even without the alcohol, I don’t reckon I would have got many more of the six that remained unsolved.

A solid DA for mine, yet, unlike the gallery, I found this one tough to boot.

The Gold (from the 23rd/24th of October)

1 across: Everest finishing here? Sure! (5)
I’m starting things off by proclaiming this &lit as gold: Everest finishing here? Sure! = t here I bet = Tibet = Everest finishing here? Sure!

2 down: Old British celebs George and Peter made hotcakes? (11)
Classic: Old British celebs George and Peter = Best Sellers = bestsellers = made hotcakes?

9 across: Broadcast yarns as tutorial?!
Another excellent &lit, and one of DA’s best anagrams (also a good example of why the interrobang needs to come back): broadcast yarns as tutorial?! = Australian Story = broadcast yarns as tutorial?!

11 across: Hint for clue, say, failing setter’s negative backlash? (7)
Fantastic: say, failing setter’s negative backlack = say sin my no backlash = synonym = hint.

23 down: Woods burning bright? (5)
Blake and DA combining forces: burning bright? = tiger = Woods.

8 down: Irregularity of a boil on gum pronounced (9)
Excellent aural clue that seems a deliberate reference to Blake’s tiger burning bright: a boil on gum pronounced = a simmer on tree pronounced = a symme try = asymmetry = irregularity.

16 down: Barely hold up a distress call, misplacing lifebuoy in sea? (8)
Interesting use of lifebuoy to make the sentence meaning flow: barely hold up a distress call, misplacing lifebuoy = barely grasp up a sos misplacing o = sarg a sso = Sargasso = sea.

14 down: The majority in Test Cricket side organised amphibious challenge (9)
Only DA can hide cryptics instructions so well: the majority in Test Cricket side organised = th in trial on (a reference to the on side in cricket) = tria th l on = triathlon = amphibious challenge.

12 down: Medical specialist now pain-free said another? (11)
Two ologists in the one clue: now pain-free said another? = now – ow said urologist = n eurologist = neurologist = medical specialist.

24 across: Buildings flaunting their age inclined to get this? (8, 7)
Excellent sentence meaning: flaunting their age inclined to get this? = heritage listing = buildings.

The Confusion (from the 23rd/24th of October)

26 across: Fix the essence of life, perhaps, upon an uncommon pulse (5, 4)

We figured it was some kind of bean…

22 across: Precisely stowed bug-spray in tower (7)

The answer’s tugboat, and bug is in there, but how about the t…oat?

12 down: Medical specialist now pain-free said another? (11)

If it weren’t for the direct clue, I wouldn’t know where to start on how this could be neurologist.

4 across: Delays speaking plugging objective twist (9)


5 down: (Malaysian) … for top spots in streets (5)

Is the answer stars? If so, why so?

6 down: Teapot is a new purchase (6)

I thought this was an anagram until nothing fit and I was left with no ideas.

13 across: Say I enter order of academy (10)

Is the answer collegiate? Again, if so, why so?

Resources for the Word

I had no idea of the Chambers Dictionary’s pivotal importance in the cruciverbalist world until Ian mentioned it in the post about DA’s use of ye in a clue.

I figure there’s probably a lot more cool stuff going round that I don’t know about and a lot of stuff you might not know about, so I’m posting this hoping that the word love can be shared all round.

Anyway, here’s what I use, have read or just recommend that’s got something to do with words:

  • is surprisingly good, and there’s even an iPhone version that you can download so that you’re always carrying a dictionary around with you wherever you go (that is, if you’ve got an iPhone — and on the subject of iPhone software, Stanza is a pretty good e-reader that I’ve read quite a few books on).
  • Wordnik is a good way to get examples of word usage for unfamiliar words, although it’s not a particularly good dictionary.
  • The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher is hands-down the best book on language I’ve read.
  • Writing Systems: A Linguistic Introduction by Geoffrey Sampson is a brilliant explanation of why languages are written the way they are.
  • The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage settles many of those questions you have about what’s acceptable and what’s not, but more importantly, does so by analysing how people speak and write rather than what some fussy grammarian might say.
  • I often browse through the humorously-written Q&A section of the Chicago Manual of Style whenever I have an editing issue I need to figure out (and my own editing standards say err on the side of using a hyphen rather than not).

The language books by Steve Pinker are pretty good, but they can be a bit too long. Languages and Their Status and Languages and their Speakers are also pretty good, but they focus quite heavily on grammar so they might not be for everyone.

And Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage is entertaining and well-written if a little out of date.

You got any others?

Update: I thought of more stuff!

  • With the British pound so low these days, Book Depository gets you very cheap books delivered to your door shipped for free! I don’t know how they survive, but I’ve bought many books from there and everything has worked out well.
  • Read Jorge Luis Borges, especially the short stories Library of Babel, Funes, the Memorious and The Garden of Forking Paths, for a finer appreciation of words and what they mean.
  • George Steiner’s After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation is a ridiculously erudite study of language and translation

There’s also Nicholas Ostler’s Empire of the Word: A Language History of the World, which contains lots of information, wonderful maps and scripts, but which is a little dry and clunkily written.

Also, Ferdinand de Saussure’s seminal Course in General Linguistics is refreshingly good, if somewhat dated now.

And Professor Harris’s Landmarks in Linguistic Thought: The Western Tradition from Socrates to Saussure is a very good history of linguistics.

The Gold (from the 16/17/18th of October)

A lot of Gold in one of DA’s best and more creative cryptics for mine.

8 across: X-boxes in one retail complex (3, 5)

Awesome: x-boxes in one retail complex = ten boxes in i mall = tim allen = funny people (the theme).

4 down: Love points to unity (7)

Fantastic use of compass points: love points = o N E N E S S = oneness = unity.

20 across: Mercury lands in light? (1., 1., 6)

I was convinced this one was WC Fields (lands = fields, light = c) until I looked up mercury and discovered its listed in the periodic table as HG: mercury lands in light = HG L and S in neon = HG Nelson = funny people (the theme).

17, 10 across: Oscar blemish in signs of affection (7, 4)

Everyone loves a Sesame Street reference: Oscar blemish in signs of affection = Grouch mar in o x = Groucho Marx = funny people (the theme)

24 across: Sixty-six percent burning (3, 1)

NC makes a good, pedantic point in jest: it should be sixty-six and six repeating percent. We’ll forgive DA on this one, though: sixty-six percent burning = a third alight = Ali G = funny people (the theme).

7 down: Major group loves musical jam, lulling hearts of most Acrosses (funny people) (6)

This one stumped me for a long time, and I think it stumped me for so long because this type of clue I’ve never seen done with the middle letter: major group loves musical jam, lulling hearts = maJor grOup loVes musIcal jAm lulLing hearts = jovial = most funny people.

13 down: In abrupt haste, Roman figures diminished gloom (10)

I wish I worked out the explanation on this one: in abrupt haste, Roman figures diminished =  suddenness DD diminished = sullenness (D (500) becomes diminished, i.e. L (50)) = gloom.

9 across: Drug flight — or drug fear (6)

Is it any surprise that DA seems to be familiar with a lot of drug slang? Here, it’s drug flight — or drug fear = trip OD = tripod = funny people (the theme).

13 down: Marathon characters take ages to coat cracked lips (8)

I even thought of dim sims before it all clicked: take ages to coat cracked lips = eons to coat psil = epsilons = Marathon characters (Marathon is in Greece).

15 across: Having less ants in the pants (7)

I was convinced the answer ended with the letter p. Alas, I was wrong: having less ants in the pants = stiller (cryptic definition) = Stiller = funny people (the theme).

I was tempted to put this one in the bullshit category because I consider Ben Stiller to be the worst comedic actor going round, but the amount of people who laugh at his antics put me in my place.

3 down: Lousy opener of the 90s? (6)

A nice cricket reference: opener of the 90s = Slater = slater = lousy.

14 across: Exercised self-denial, mainly (8)

I thought this one was a little dodge: exercised self-denial mainly = seinfeldal mainly = Seinfeld = funny people (the theme).

Cutting two letters off an anagram with a mainly I thought was stretching things when they’re are so many ways to write a good clue. But Rob in the comments explained why DA did what he did: it’s a reference to the “master of your domain” Seinfeld episode!

DA is genius!