Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 72: Cluless of Potts Point

“Within the pages of this book there is a story told
Of love adventures, fortunes lost, and a jewel of solid gold.
To solve the hidden riddle, you must use your eyes,
And find the hare in every picture that may point you to the prize.”

“In 1979, English craftsman and book illustrator, Kit Williams buried (somewhere in England) an exquisite jewel” - a hare, wrought in gold, inlaid with rubies, turquoise, moonstone and faïence, valued at £5,000 - “and set treasure-hunters the world over looking for the golden hare by concealing the clues to its whereabouts in his book Masquerade. Not just in Britain, but from New York to Tokyo, close on two million readers joined in the search for the answer to the book’s master riddle.”

So reads the sleeve note of the companion book with the solution to the riddle, published three years after the original puzzle was set and after the jewel had been unearthed. In the original book, Masquerade, there were some fifteen whimsical (yet complexed) illustrations that held clues, which when decrypted and added together, revealed the location where the hare had been buried. Each of the illustrations carried tantalising words - more riddles - alongside; talk about an enigma wrapped in a conundrum enclosed in a puzzle hidden in a secret?!

I bought Masquerade, fancying myself as a solver of puzzles (remember that my favourite genre of film is crime) and struggled to apply myself to solving even one of the clues. But the buried hare became quite a bid deal in the UK, catching the eye of the media; there were television programmes and newspaper articles and many of the population got swept up in our own real-life version of some sort of Da Vinci Code. I’m sure that you could track down the books on one of the vast internet book depositories that exist if the idea whets your appetitie.

I’m a bit of a dab hand at crosswords too, mostly the Sydney Morning Herlad “quick” (on a daily basis), but I have been known - much to my own astonishment - to get the “cryptic” out on a Saturday. Someone showed me how to approach the SMH “cryptic” many years ago, passing onto me the 'covenant of the clues', so arming me with the ability to at least cast my beady eye over any cryptic crossword, even if I don’t have a snowball in hell’s chance of solving it.

However, the solving of a particularly gnarly cryptic clue, is one of life’s greatest pleasures, akin only to solving the riddle of a scene in a screenplay that I may have been mulling over for days or weeks. The joy cannot be shared with someone else, becase they are not party to the cerebral gymastics that I’ve had to perform, walk away from, perform again and again, prior to finally creeping up on the solution and cornering it. But oh what joy it is. Here are two favourite clues of mine (don’t panic, I’ll give the answers out at the foot of today’s musing):

gegs (9,4)


Day #72 Tip: Use both sides of the brain
I could try and dazzle you with my knowledege of the brain, using terms like “the caudal posterior part of the forebrain, containing the epithalamus, hypothalamus, and vetral thalamus and the third ventricle”, but I won’t, because I’d be so far out of my depth that I’d be afeared of sharks catching a whiff of blood.

What I do know is that someone, somewhere once told me and everyone else that there’s a left side of the brain and a right side of the brain and that one side is responsible for imaginative thinking and the other for the logical stuff. That’s probably very naively put on my part, it's maybe even wrong (I am de temps en temps), but hey, this is not a thesis on the brain, I’m just banging on about puzzles.

It was also explained to me (and I buy this) that when the cryptic crossword puzzler solves a clue, both those parts of the brain have to work together and when you arrive at the solution, it’s like the two sides link arms, have a party and do a merry little dance together; hence I always want to do a celebratory jig of my own when I get a clue out. I guess that ‘moment of solving’ might be called “creativity”?

So it is too with screenwriting. If were the master of form, structure and scriptwriting theory, yet lacked a robust and healthy imagination, my writing would be dry and theoretical, if in fact I was able to write anything at all, other than an instruction manual for a household electrical appliance. If, on the other hand, I had an imagination as overgrown and expansive as “the Wild Wood”, yet no understanding and experience of the form with with to harness that fancy, then my writing might look and read like the untrammelled outpourings of a raving madman.

I need both sides of my brain to work, one with the other, the left and right hemisphere’s to be talking to and communication with each other. Crosswords exercise that relationship well for me and offer me the occasional opportunity for a galliard (look it up), even if I don’t actually get up onto my feet.

Ooh, I nearly forgot, the answers.......

Scrambled Eggs


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