AMARKEEGO spells GEEK-O-RAMA: Well read-head
Recently, a stranger walked up to me in a café.
‘Is that The Sydney Morning Herald you’re reading?’ she asked. She looked about 30 and her hair was tied back in a ponytail. I told her it was and she immediately drew closer to take a look.
‘I just need to see yesterday’s word,’ she said.
Instantly, I knew what she meant. She was referring to the Target Word puzzle that appears inside the back page. Nine letters are arranged randomly in a square. You have to find the word that uses all the letters.
‘It was harlequin,’ I volunteered before she grabbed the paper.
‘Harlequin! I knew it!’ she exclaimed. ‘I woke up at 2am and I said to him, I think it’s harlequin.’
She pointed to a man sitting a nearby table. He was wearing a cycling outfit and an expression that said “I don’t know her.”
I asked the girl in the café if she had been able to do that morning’s puzzle because it had left me stumped. Oddly, if I can’t get the Target Word within about ten seconds of staring at it, then I can’t get it no matter how long I work on it. The letters were:
‘Hmm,’ she said staring at it for a while, ‘Nope, I can’t see it.’
I gave up and forgot about it, but noticed later that my husband had been scratching around on a piece of paper, trying to figure it out. He’d written a variety of nonsense words, including fronenate, enfonator and frontaone.
Finally, he’d settled on the only thing he could find, which was wrong yet impressive: no-one fart.
Defeated, I rang The Oracle - Bill Leak, the editorial cartoonist at The Australian.
Leak gets so many calls from friends for help on word puzzles, cryptic crosswords and scrabble moves that he might as well call his home number a helpline and start charging.
My greatest achievement in life may the day we were at a café together doing the cryptic and I got a clue before he did (I still remember it: record player).
‘Can you do today’s Target Word?’ I asked Leak.
‘Just let me just open the paper,’ he said. There was the sound of rustling followed by a two second pause.
‘My dear Gingernut!’ he cried. ‘Are you joking?’
With gritted teeth, I admitted I wasn’t.
‘It’s afternoon obviously,’ Leak boomed and then generously added, ‘It’s one of the easiest ones I’ve ever seen.’
You can see why I take pleasure in an occasional triumph over such a person.
You can try your own luck at the Target Word in this fortnight’s list of interesting things to watch, read or listen to:
Be tormented by the Target Word here.
I’d better link to Bill Leak’s cartoons now that I’ve shamelessly name dropped him so that I’ll seem funnier and smarter by association. The Australian keeps all his work in this online gallery.
Sarah Palin’s resignation as Alaskan Governor has sparked a great deal of head scratching in American political circles. If you’ve not watched the press conference at which she made her announcement, it’s well worth it. It’s reminiscent of her infamous interview with Katie Couric, although this time it’s all Palin’s own work.
Right before Palin announced her resignation, Vanity Fair published a very unflattering profile of her which set tongues wagging.
Another recent article that created a lot of buzz in Washington was a New Yorker profile of the CIA Chief, Leon Panetta. In it, Panetta said that in his view, the former Vice President Dick Cheney almost wished the US would endure another terrorist attack so that it would help Cheney ‘make his point’ about the Obama administration winding back various national security measures. Panetta had to engage in some swift damage control when those comments appeared.
While we’re on US politics, it’s been hard to avoid staring at the train wreck that is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford during the past fortnight. He recently admitted to an extra marital affair in excruciating detail. Take a look at The Daily Show begging him to ‘just shut up’.
British politics has recently been preoccupied with an extraordinary expenses scandal, in which The Telegraph newspaper revealed that MPs had been using taxpayer dollars to pay for everything from moat cleaning to glitter toilet seats to second homes. The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University has done some interesting research into how The Guardian used “crowd sourcing” to catch up to The Telegraph’s massive head start on the story. Thanks to photographer Mike Bowers (@mpbowers on twitter) for the tip.
I’ve seen this clip from the film Downfall parodied several different ways, but this one in which Hitler learns of Michael Jackson’s death is comedy gold.
I am so over all things Michael Jackson, but I did enjoy this interview with the legendary music producer Quincy Jones, who sounds like a spin-free zone, especially sharing his anecdote about being bitten by Bubbles the Chimp whilst in the recording studio.
The latest Quarterly Essay by Annabel Crabb, Stop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull, is a marvellous piece of writing. If you’re interested in Australian politics, I highly recommend it. Not available online.
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