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Hi again

Long time no see, folks! I'm dipping my toes back into blogging and social media — pandemic isolation means I have a bit more time, and this is a good way to stay in touch.

My Facebook Page can be found here. Maybe I'll see you over there?

Recent posts

Myrrh, Mice, Stars

Best wishes for Christmas and and the New Year! May your 2015 be filled with puzzles and conundrums (of the entertaining kind)!

Here's a great puzzle-y comic from one of my fave webcomics, Girls With Slingshots.

PS the title of this post is an anagram, did you figure it out?

Crosswords online

Just in case the plethora of crossword magazines out there isn't enough for you — "More, more!" I hear you cry! — there are vast numbers of online crossword sites.  
The Guardian website has a huge collection of cryptic and quick crosswords, from over 30 setters. They have an archive crossword search function, so you can easily locate puzzles by your favourite setter, type, or publication date. You can also sign up for the crossword editor’s monthly update email, and participate in discussions about each crossword in comments below each crossword. You can either solve them online, or download print versions to do with pencil on paper.

The Puzzle Wizardseries of magazines is produced by the excellent independent Australian puzzle writer and publisher, Greg Parker. His website includes a bunch of puzzles to solve online. There are six crossword themes you can choose from Straight Crosswords, Movies, AFL, Cricket, Music, and Television. There are also 100 free crosswords. The…

Silly definitions A-M

I don't quite know where the last seven weeks disappeared to, seem to have lost my blogging mojo for a bit there.

Anyway ... I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the very silly definitions from my friend Troy Simpson's book, The Funny Dictionary. These definitions have come from student essays, which Troy heroically trawled through. I did these few illustrations for the book.

A la carte: When you can have all the desserts that's on the trolley

Ave Domine: 'Lord, I am a bird.' [my favourite]

Barber: The opposite of heiress

Botulism: A close study of plants

Caterer: Someone who minds your cat

Circular Argument: Presiding at a board meeting

Coup de Grâce: A lawn mower

Cynic: Someone who refuses to believe in fairy tales

Decimal: A fraction with a point

Democracy: Government by demons

Diabolic: Having diabetes

Dogma: The mother of puppies

Dolt: Grown-up person

Emu: The name of the noise made by a cat

Equestrian: One who asks questions

Etymologist: A man who catches butt…

The Care and Feeding of Indexers

We indexers are a hardy species. We are almost all self-employed, which means we're good at working alone, and are self-motivated and organised. We work long hours when an indexing job comes in, including nights and weekends, to meet publishers' and authors' deadlines. We love our work.

But despite this hardiness, we do need some care. We are still human. We can't work miracles. The following list addresses frequent grievances, and ways you can look after your indexers better.

1. We need you now!

Don't contact us for a quote, and then expect us to be available that week. Many of us have work booked in advance, for months. We need advance notice.

2. It's going to be late ...

When you give us a deadline for the delivery of a manuscript, we book it in to our work calendars. We often have many projects coming in, one after the other, and we schedule them accordingly.

When you run late with delivery, it puts our whole work schedule out, and it affects other indexes, a…

Born Bad — a wicked index

The latest book I've indexed is Born Bad, by James Boyce (Black Inc. Publishing). This is a fascinating book, tracing the history and impact of the idea of original sin, from its origin from St Augustine in the late 4th century, to the modern day. I highly recommend it!

There were several points to make decisions about in this index (well, every index is a constant process of decision making, to be honest).

Firstly were a bunch of medieval names, how are these treated? And the names of saints and popes?

With names such as Friedrich the Wise, I used direct order for the entry (ie written as is, 'Friedrich the Wise'), not inverted (Wise, Friedrich the), as 'Wise' isn't a surname. The same goes for names such as Julian of Norwich ... 'Norwich' isn't a surname, so he appears in the index under J for Julian.

With popes and saints, the way I treated these names (as there were a lot of them mentioned) was under their 'holy' names, with a gloss afte…

Gemini 7043

Time for another Gemini analysis. This is for the Gemini cryptic #7043, which was published in The Canberra Times on 15 July 2014.

A usual, the definition part of the clue is underlined, except for double definition and cryptic definition clues.

1. Eggs it's nice to scramble (7) = INCITES
The definition is a nice confusion here — it's a verb, as in egging on someone, not a noun! Anagram indicated by scramble of it's nice. Ignore that apostrophe.

4. It's mean to the players (5) = MEZZO
Cryptic definition. MEZZO is a musical term meaning 'middle'. Mean is an average, or the middle. So MEZZO is a term that means 'middle' to musicians (players).

7. A stake in a buoyant economy (4) = ANTE
Hidden word clue, indicated by in. You can see it in buoyant economy.

8. On the edge and somewhat alarming (8) = MARGINAL
Anagram, indicated by somewhat, of alarming.

10. He draws actors into trouble (10) = CARTOONIST
Anagram clue. Actors into is the anagram fodder, t…