Baby’s First Words by Ifor
The perimeter contains the first words spoken on screen by GRETA GARBO (omitting BABY, in the title). GARBO is changed according to the quote ‘I want to be ALONE’.
One is always on the lookout for phrases of the type A is B, A becomes B… where A and B are of equal length, so this well-known remark by Garbo seemed a natural. Exploration revealed that the necessary change could be made within a couple of words and that Greta could be accommodated symmetrically (I like endgames and highlighting thus, while not being overly concerned about barring symmetry). Not enough there, though, so what else? A little research provided the perimeter phrase. Solvers might have wondered why “baby” was omitted from the quotation when it would have enabled a grid without the corners missing; I imagine that it could have been so accommodated, but at the expense of starting the remark at some arbitrary point in the perimeter, which I dislike. Grid construction then involved juggling the positions of Greta and Garbo, and the perimeter barring, to allow the unchecked letters therein to form a vaguely apposite phrase, which is always preferable to some random statement (which isn’t to criticise – where this is seen it usually implies a wealth of thematic material creating insuperable constraints for the setter). Much letter-shuffling ensued before I was satisfied with the result.
Unusually for an Ifor puzzle, all the clues are normal. I do prefer the challenge of a self-imposed constraint, but to add complexity here would amount to self-indulgence. Anyway, I hope this slight departure from the norm proved enjoyable.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.