Friday, September 24, 2010

Neat Definitions 2

Each Clue explanation is divided into Analysis, Aesthetics and Afterword.

Visual Key to Clue Analysis :
Definition : BOLD
Wordplay : Italics with keywords underlined as well
Link : Normal


Clue A : Water-colour production from painter using East End location (7)


Water-colour production from painter using East End location.

Painter = RA (see 9Down write-up in Crossword 1 Answers Explanation Posting)
Using East End location  will take up the remaining 5 letters.This particular location in East End should be 3 lettered.
This is because at least 2 letters are needed for "using". Let's say the location is called ZZZ. Then "using ZZZ" can be "at ZZZ" or "in ZZZ". Since RA is next to it, IN seems the better choice. So we have RAINZZZ. When we see RAIN and water-colour, we will be able to reach RAINBOW. You can check to verify that Bow is part of East End, London.


The art motif is used in the definition as well as the wordplay and this enhances the surface reading of the clue.Water-colour is a common enough term but when used in this context , it is elevated and  becomes inextricably linked with rainbow, one of Nature's mysterious creations.


Below is the image of a double rainbow in a watercolour painting by a master of the form, John Constable.

Constable painted directly from Nature.When he did this painting, the sun would have been behind him. Just this fact would have been sufficient for anyone to connect the sun behind, the rain in front - with the eventual appearance of a rainbow in front of an observer.
Yet it took until 1666, the "annus mirabilis" to understand the connection.No less a wizard than Newton ( superb in theoretical, mathematical and experimental physics ) solved the mystery in his masterpiece "Opticks".

To Newton, Nature offered the ultimate treasure hunt for the natural philosopher.

William Blake, mystic poet, lamented the solving of this and other mysteries. John Keats famously said that Newton had "unweaved" the rainbow, thus robbing it of its beauty.But his later words " Beauty is Truth, truth beauty" acknowledged that such unweaving had exposed pure beauty.How would a modern day Constable have painted the rainbow? Maybe the picture below can give a hint.

This was the image that prompted me to pen a clue for the word "Pelangi" (rainbow in the Malay language) in a treasure hunt circa 2002.

Your head blocks the sun from its centre.

Of course, no definition is needed in a treasure hunt clue, since the answers are out there! To understand why the clue fits, you can read about it here.

Clue B : Provider of a big bang? Possibly, it's supersonic! (13)


Provider of a big bang? Possibly, it's supersonic!

Possibly is the anagram indicator.And it's supersonic has 13 letters.Rearranging them, we have percussionist.
Percussion instruments are that family of instruments which musicians beat or strike to produce sound.And that certainly fits the definition provided.


Once again we spot a connection between definition and wordplay.A supersonic (transport) produces a sonic boom (big bang) when it crosses the sound barrier.Also, we have one of those delightful anagrams where a derived word is paired smoothly with the definition. It is simple and satisfying.


The anagram indicator is a staple in cryptic crosswords and hunts.In Crossword 2 , you would have seen that there were 12 of them.As a rule, when that many anagrams occur in a single setting, you can consider the puzzle to be easy and doable for beginners.
Even in difficult crosswords, the humble anagram indicator appears in at least a couple of clues.They are familiar faces you are glad to spot at a party that's full of forbidding strangers.You start a conversation with them before you get an intro to their immediate neighbours.
Hence anagram indicators are important that way - not terribly sexy like the other cold beauties around - hey, but you gotta start somewhere!

Some setters make it even more difficult for you at their party by disguising their anagram indicators with exotic garb, like at a masked ball.Hopefully, you see through the charade and recognize that familiar face.Don't take them for granted.Take up their kind offer and work your way through the room.Of course, there are those supremely confident playboys who start anywhere and before you know it, they're off to another party!

Clue C : Revising at a blue-chip university leaving with a first. etc (10)


Revising at a blue-chip university leaving with a first. etc

Revising is a familiar face.Yes, its an anagram indicator. The answer requires 10 letters but at a blue-chip has 11 letters.So one needs to leave and that one is u which is a short form for university.This is confirmed by the remaining portion of the wordplay which is university leaving. So then we revise ATABLECHIP to ALPHABETIC. This word suggests a particular order of letters starting with A, then B and so on - which fits nicely with the pithy a first, etc.


In the context of this clue, first is the equivalent of a first-class honours, indicating high achievement and ability.This is the meaning your mind would impart to that word , since it concatenates with revising and blue-chip.
Other than standing in as a dependable anagram indicator, revising is also linked to the drudgery of studying and re-studying.And that, too at a blue-chip university, no less.So you study hard at a top uni and deservedly get a first-class honours.Great! That's what is definitely in your brain when you first read the clue.


Etc is usually part of the wordplay in most clues.This is one of the few times it appears in a definition.Another thing that throws beginners off is that when you read the clue, "a" is pronounced as the article and not the letter.So it takes some amount of mental gymnastics to shift gears to treating it in letter-mode.Your brain will get to treat "a" in both modes after revising CONSTANTLY.Another lesson here is the substitution of words like university with a single letter. There are a whole lot of them out there and it takes time get familiar with all of them.

And to finish off this posting here is another triplet of neat definitions.

D. Work in a cause : that's the aim of running mates. (9)  _ _ O _ _ _ _ _ _

E. How reactor may be occupied reproducing relatively closely? (10) _ _ _ R _ _ _ _ _ _

F. Check plant for new life. (13) _ _ _ N _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 Give them a go and if you think you've got 'em, do send your answers to


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