Listen With Others

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Silent Movie by Elfman

Posted by shirleycurran on 11 May 2018

There was nothing too daunting about this preamble except having to fit tiny little numbers below those quotation word lengths so that we would be sure to get the right word in the manipulations that had to follow our solve – and write the 3,4,6 below the grid. I scanned the clues to check that Elfman hasn’t forfeited his right of entry to the Listener Setters’ Tippling Outfit and found a rather unsavoury ‘Half-hearted embrace swallowing a warm drink (6)’. We removed one of the Ds from CUDDLE and let the cudle swallow an A and got CAUDLE. What can I say but “Cheers, Elfman!”

We were up in the Yorkshire Dales and it was a beautiful evening outside so we were grateful for a speedy solve – and it was that with H?LL?WO?D almost at once telling us that the seventh word of the quotation was HOLLYWOOD and three extra words in the down clues stood out and hinted that the letters we had to choose in down clues to produce the first four words of the quotation were LIKE TITLE ACTORS. That had to be SILENT, didn’t it? We didn’t immediately understand that but that is so often the case with Listener crosswords so we moved on and solved.

Fine clues that produced a couple of smiles when we had removed ‘actors’ we had to ‘Organise porn yet measure of disorder results (7)’. ENTROPY said the other Numpty while I smiled at the surface reading. ‘Studied Siemens and Watt – extreme education (7)’ produced similar ambiguity with the physicist, this time, wondering about Watt as I responded SWOTTED.

I wonder how many other solvers completed the crossword, rooting out that rather obscure Oscar Levant quotation “Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you’ll find the real tinsel underneath” getting the word TINSEL (SILENT anagrammed) and realized that we were stripping the letters of TINSEL or SILENT from those four jumbly-looking clues that I have highlighted in yellow to return to the four full solutions: INSTRUMENT PANEL, LINE YOUR POCKETS, SELLING POINT and LITTLE MAGAZINES – and then wondered for a long head-scratching pause how we were extracting ‘STRIP AWAY THE PHONY OF’ from the nineteen across clues – and was that going to change anything?

Up to this point of our solve, we were saying ‘Bit easy, nothing special, just a straight-forward solve – but frustrating that we can’t see what that last twist is’ – then the penny dropped with a mighty old-fashioned clang and we saw that ‘with a number of liberties’ – yes, we are among the ‘some’, Scots for example, who would certainly concur with that – we were using letters that could be moved from at least one word in each clue because they were silent; the N of condemNed, for example. It was fun actually back-solving to find those nineteen letters (even if it was, perhaps, a weakness of the crossword that it could be solved with the solver never recognising that very clever and original endgame that certainly ramped up the quality of the crossword). Many thanks, Elfman.


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