Left Speechless

by Amanda Rafkin & Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 🙊🙊🙊🙊 Difficulty: 2.5/5

I post this puzzle with much love in my heart for my co-author Amanda Rafkin, whose name you’ll recognize from the masthead at the Universal Crossword where she is an assistant editor. Whether or not it was happenstance we’ll leave to the gods to decide, but her recent first solo-edited puzzle happened to be one of my grids. Kudos to David Steinberg for hiring such a talented puzzle maker, and mazel tov to Amanda for her many good crossworks.

A couple of thoughts and spoilers for “Left Speechless” after the jump!

editorial glory

Today’s puzzle follows an age-old crossword formula, using a revealer answer to indicate the placement and meaning of various rough synonyms or category examples. If you’re just starting out, it’s not a bad theme type to dabble in, and generating revealers like FIRST DANCE, RIGHT WING, CENTER STAGE, etc., can be a fun little thought game.

I don’t tend to go back to this well too much anymore, but Amanda and I like a challenge, and stacking ALL QUIET ON (10) THE WESTERN FRONT (15) represented a cute little constructor’s flourish. And who knew that *that* swan is called a MUTE SWAN? Pretty honkin’ good name right there.

For more grid’s from Amanda and her various collaborators, check out her Brain Candy website. And happy solving!


9 thoughts on “Left Speechless

  1. I like the concept (and the book at 60A is one of my favorites; I recommend also EMR’s “Arch of Triumph”). I guess it depends what “Western front” means in the contest of a XW, but I think of it as the left edge of the grid, meaning MUTE SWAN should be flush with that edge – which makes puzzle symmetry kind of difficult I suppose (unless you have horizontal symmetry on a Sunday-sized grid). Fun fact about 16A (from a baseball fan) – his son Prince was no slouch either, six-time All-Star and all that – the word CECIL came up in a (terrible) puzzle I was constructing, and I was looking for ways to clue it as “Prince’s father” or something with a lot of misdirection on it, before I gave up – I was disappointed that neither had played for the Royals, which would have helped… Is 11D a verb, in the context of the clue? How about “Beefeaters”?

    • You know, we had considered going with 3 themers + revealer, which could have achieved what you’re describing by locating including a 15-letter spanner in the middle row. However, there weren’t many fun 15-letter MUTE- answers, so we satisfied ourselves with WESTERN = leftmost, rather than = justified left. Though I like where your head’s at!

  2. The faint sound I hear is not the ringing in my ears (the result of a previous puzzle), but the receding Doppler Effect of quiet desperation I felt while trying to evoke known answers to numerous clues . I did finally solve the puzzle, although my elapsed time will inspire not even the least of a subdued hubbub among score watchers.
    3D and 67A clues amused me, while 13A and 53A were challenging. And, I still can not identify the Spielberg film of 55A, “The BFG”, which should be obvious.
    Thanks for the well thought out puzzle!

    • Please take some small solace, Dominick, that your humble constructors couldn’t be further from what you might call “score watchers.” Thank you for solving, as always!

  3. Smooth solve except for the mid-Western front. Stuck with alowROAR a bit too long but got that worked out. Had to look up BFG afterward also. Well constructed (and edited!).

Leave a Reply