Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,017 (Sat 22 May)/Araucaria – A smile a minute

Posted by rightback on May 29th, 2010


Solving time: 8 mins

For Araucaria this was surprisingly straightforward, but that’s probably just as well with a bank holiday special due this week. One of the reasons for the lower-than-average difficulty was the high number of clues which were solvable from the definition, especially the long answers; the mini-theme of photography, possibly inspired by the answer to 27ac, also helped.

Although this was a fast solve I thought it was very good, with lots of clues that made me 8ac: 26ac, 27ac, 10dn were the main ones. Hope you all have a sunny bank holiday weekend.

Music of the day: Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, which is really so much better than, say, Smile by The Supernaturals.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 WATCH THE BIRDIE (1 def, 1 whimsical def) – the first definition (correctly with a question mark) being a pun on ‘twitcher’ meaning ‘birdwatcher’. I only saw this when blogging, but I like it.
9 REED MACE; (CREAM)* around rev. of DEE (= a river = a flower)
13 GUMBO[ot]
15 SAY CHEESE – the first ‘for example’ gives ‘say’ and the second is an indication of ‘definition by example’ (CHEESE ‘defined’ by ‘brie’).
20 AESOP; rev. of (POSE A) – ‘on’ is superfluous in this clue.
21 NIGERIA; (IN with the letters exchanged) + GERIA[trics]
25 SATANISM; (ANTI-MASS)*, &lit – rather a good one (with ‘mass’ read in the churchy sense).
26 AIMEE – punning on ‘aim’ by analogy with ‘tutee’, ’employee’ etc.
27 PHOTOSYNTHESIS (one def, one whimsical def) – really liked this (‘photo synthesis’ possibly describing a photographer’s work/responsibility).
1 WEST HIGHLAND TERRIER; (HI WHISTLER GRANTED)* – rather a forced anagram. [Edit: this should have read (HI WHISTLER GRANTED)* + E.R., as the comments point out.]
2 TRIER; T[er]RIER – I can only think that ‘former queen’ refers to Elizabeth I, but this is a bit strange given that ‘queen’ is universally accepted in cryptics to indicate ER. [Edit: Further thanks to commenters who have pointed out that ER was also referred to in the previous clue, hence ‘former’.]
3 HAEMATOMA; HAE (= Scottish word for ‘have’) + MA (= ‘parent’) + TO + MA (= ‘master’)
4 HARNESS – apparently ‘to die in harness’ means ‘to die in the course of one’s work’, especially on the battlefield.
5 BREATHY; (BY HEART)* – nice anagram but this is a description of a manner of speaking rather than being a ‘Manner of speaking’ per se.
6 RIMER; [p]RIMER – ‘rime’ being an old spelling of ‘rhyme’.
7 [b]ITCHINESS – ‘as of 12′ referring to the doggy meaning of ‘bitch’.
10 GREEN + PEPPERS – a ‘pepper’ being something that ‘peps’, i.e. stimulates.
14 MONOGRAPH; rev. of ARGON (= ‘gas’) in MOP (= ‘cleaner’) + H[ydrogen] – I managed to put this together but would have had no idea what the word meant. Somehow I associate words ending in -graph with drawings and pictures, although the root is the Greek graphein meaning ‘to write’.
16 HEAT DEATH; (A + TED*) in [Ted] HEATH – a new phrase to me, defined by Chambers as ‘the final state of the universe (if it is a closed system) predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in which heat and energy are uniformly distributed throughout the substance of the universe’. I am educated.
18 ANANIAS; I after A NAN, + AS – the biblical liar Ananias.
19 DOORMAN; OR M.A. in DON (= ‘academic’) – ‘dress’ indicating the containment, although it’s a bit superfluous since ‘in’ already does the job (but then there is a question mark).
22 ROAST; [washe]R + OAST
24 HUMUS; HUM + U.S. – ‘decomposed organic matter in the soil’.

21 Responses to “Guardian 25,017 (Sat 22 May)/Araucaria – A smile a minute”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Rightback. I’m still not sure about 27 though; synthesis is the process of combining separate elements into a complex whole but it is a bit of a stretch to apply it to people and I wonder if it can really be work/responsibility.

    I share your reservation about ‘former’ in 2.

  2. tupu says:

    Hi rightback. Brilliant fast solve and generally very good analysis!
    Re 2 down. I came to the conclusion that the ‘former’ referred to ER’s presence in 1 down (Hi whistler granted requires @er’ to make up the full anagram of 21 letters). We had somethging like this recently referring to the ‘next’ clue.
    As you say a very nice solvable puzzle.

  3. tupu says:

    Sorry that should of course read ‘er’ and not @er’!

  4. tupu says:

    :)I should go back to bed and start again later if at all! The total number of letters is of course 19!

  5. Tokyocolin says:

    I assumed the ‘former’ in 2dn refers to the former of two ‘ER’s in Terrier.

  6. tupu says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin. That also makes sense, and arguably more exactly. I had assumed ‘former’ meant ‘previously mentioned’ but not that COED gives ‘the first OR first mentioned of two’.

  7. tupu says:

    For not read note in 6. I washed my brain last night and can’t do anything with it.

  8. Stella Heath says:

    1d,12 is the anagram plus the Queen(‘s dog), or “er”, the definition being simply “dog”. Actually, the Queen’s dogs are King Charles spaniels, which led me down the wrong road for a while.

    Then the former queen referred to in 2d, is of course the first “er” in terrier, rather than that used in the previous clue!

    Ingenious, and I have no problem with the tongue-in-cheek definition of photosynthesis – it paints quite a pleasing image IMHO :-)

  9. rrc says:

    I enjoyed this – it was sufficiently difficult to make it a challenge and yet there were other clues which were quite easy to solve but with the aha moment.

  10. Bill Taylor says:

    Araucaria in far better form than he was yesterday. 27a, especially, was delightful. A great Friday evening postprandial workout; very good for the digestion.

  11. muck says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle and the blog
    I didn’t like 26ac AIMEE

  12. tupu says:

    Hi Liz Heath re 2d. As my comment in 6 makes clear, I also like Tokyocolin’s (and your) suggestion as providing a tighter fit to the solution. I am less sure about your ‘of course’. I have so far failed to find it, but there has been a clue in the last few weeks which referred forward to the next answer, if I remember rightly. It was this I had in mind,
    The real question to be solved was the ref. to ‘former’ which led me and rightback to ponder about ER1. Once I’d thought of my own idea of ‘former’ = ‘previous’, inertia set in – of course it did not specify which ‘er’ in terrier needed removing, but the answer to that was clear from the clue. Both ideas solve the problem.

  13. tupu says:

    Hi. I’m at it again with a bad day. Apologies STELLA Heath! :)

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    OOer. Despite half a dozen Araucaria finishes, I never got anywhere with his Saturday ones, until this one. Yee Hah! Trouble with yee hahs though is once you’ve done it, that’s it for keeps.

    Still it was nice to have one that even I could enjoy instead of fighting with gritted teeth.

  15. Shirley says:

    14D Rightback – have you never read any Sherlock Holmes stories? He was always telling Watson about his monographs on subjects ranging from the Motets of Lassus to a hundred different types of tobacco ash!

  16. Chris says:

    8 minutes? hmmmmmmmm, i wonder. Then, at least it was eight minutes with all finished, rather than some of the recent past’s 23 minutes with three wrong.
    Glad they take me a bit longer: you get a bit of flavour when you chew.

  17. rightback says:

    Thanks for the corrections to 1 and 2 down, now edited above – I had to blog this in a hurry and didn’t look at 1 down carefully enough when blogging (which is strange because I blogged immediately after solving and I’m sure I checked the anagram & noticed the extra ‘ER’ when I solved the clue).

    Shirley – you are quite right, I knew I’d seen the word somewhere before and that’s exactly where. Thanks!

  18. sheffieldhatter says:

    This was so straightforward that most of the clues could be solved from the definitions alone. For instance, 27ac has an amusing whimsical definition but the main definition actually renders it redundant. Is Araucaria slipping or has he been instructed to dumb down? I expect the prize crossword to be more of a challenge than this.

  19. Anne says:

    I still don’t understand 22D.

    Was he leaving the washer-dryer to cook?

    Can someone please enlighten?

  20. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Anne
    The definition is ‘to cook’, ie ROAST. The wordplay is ‘washer’ minus ‘was he’ = [was he]R + OAST (as in oast house, a place where hops are dried).

  21. Anne says:

    Thank you, Gaufrid. “Oast” is a new word for me. I have just found it in the dictionary: a kiln for drying hops.

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