New York Times, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Author: Jared Banta
Editor: Will Shortz
Jared Banta
TotalDebutCollabs
11/22/20140
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RebusCirclePangram
110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Banta NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jared Banta notes: I've always been very much in awe of past puzzles that contained 'maps,' and was very interested in the idea of re-telling a story ... more
Jared Banta notes: I've always been very much in awe of past puzzles that contained "maps," and was very interested in the idea of re-telling a story within a puzzle. I hit upon the idea of a trail of BREAD CRUMBS through the grid, and then was delighted to discover that the title HANSEL AND GRETEL was 15 letters long. It was not long before it became apparent what the other theme entries should be. The trouble then became finding a layout and fill that would work well. I went through several drafts before hitting on a solution for the NE corner which allowed me to include the rebus square while still maintaining a recognizable "S" shape with the circled letters. The resulting orientation of black squares I thought was very clean and handsome, and very fillable for the most part.

I will mention for educational purposes that Mr. Shortz was not thrilled with the presence of the central ugly "TNS," but said he could live with it considering the constrictive nature of the placement and amount of theme squares, and the fact that there was no easy way to get rid of it. Hopefully the execution of the theme makes up for this in solvers' minds.

I'm really excited to see this in print, and I hope everyone has fun cracking it!

Will Shortz notes: Constructor Jared Banta of Superior, Colo., makes his debut today with a very clever theme idea. Generally solvers (especially new ... more
Will Shortz notes: Constructor Jared Banta of Superior, Colo., makes his debut today with a very clever theme idea. Generally solvers (especially new ones) don't expect a rebus element on a Wednesday, so I'm girding myself for complaints about the lower-left and upper-right corners.
Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea today; I really like puzzles visually representing something. The formation of a trail of bread crumbs from HOME to the ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Neat idea today; I really like puzzles visually representing something. The formation of a trail of bread crumbs from HOME to the WITCH was pretty neat to uncover. And the trail itself, depicted using circled letters, is beautifully laid out, giving a meandering path through the forest of letters. Very cool debut.

I stay away from rebus puzzles these days, as I personally think they're overdone unless there's a really good reason for them. Today, I really like having just those two rebus squares, making for a surprising a-ha moment when I struggled in the SW. And having the central answer refer to the places where the path started and ended was very helpful. Elegant way to do it.

For me, this felt like a case where "less is more" would have been appreciated. To start, I wasn't a fan of the lack of symmetry in the theme answers (ANDERSEN not having a symmetrically placed theme answer). Many will be okay with that, but I appreciate the beauty in the symmetry required out of crosswords. It's totally fine, even laudable to break crossword symmetry rules if there's a good reason (I did like the asymmetrical winding path, for instance), but I didn't think it was worth it here.

In addition, the huge amount of fill (four long theme answers plus BREAD CRUMBS strewn about) made for a difficult construction. Generally there's some great stuff (super impressive considering it's a debut puzzle) like NEAR BEER, CESAR RITZ, and HOME BREW, but EAT NO FAT felt to me like a strange partial (not really a lexical chunk on its own), plus tossing in the arbitrary TWO ROW, long partial A BEAR and the awkward RELOG felt pricey. And TNS, we shall not speak of ye. I imagine less theme density would have allowed for sparklier/cleaner entries.

Great idea, looking forward to more from Jared.

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HOME
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,451
Across Down
1. Arcing shots : LOBS
5. Liberal arts subj. : HIST
9. 2010 Jennifer Aniston movie : THESWITCH
14. Spread unit : ACRE
15. Keen on : INTO
16. Drop off : ABATE
17. "South Park" boy : STAN
18. "Where America's day begins" : GUAM
19. "___ pray" : LETUS
20. With 23-Across, giant in fairy tales : HANSCHRISTIAN
23. See 20-Across : ANDERSEN
24. ___ Quimby of children's lit : RAMONA
27. Rock band named for an inventor : TESLA
28. Do some diner work : BUS
29. Tough spot : FIX
30. Kicked to the curb : EVICTED
34. Ending with tea or cup : CAKE
35. Story mapped out in this grid, from lower left to upper right : HANSELANDGRETEL
39. Much binary code : ONES
40. Flat takers : LESSEES
41. Music genre that influenced No Doubt : SKA
42. Top point value of a Scrabble tile : TEN
43. Debussy masterpiece : LAMER
47. Purposely loses : THROWS
49. View from a highway overlook : PANORAMA
52. Publishers of 35-Across, with "the" : BROTHERSGRIMM
54. Hungry as ___ : ABEAR
56. Trial fig. : ATTY
57. Answer to "That so?" : ITIS
58. Associate with : TIETO
59. Like many highlighter colors : NEON
60. Where many Sargents hang, with "the" : TATE
61. Do-it-yourself libation : HOMEBREW
62. Ray of fast-food fame : KROC
63. Bad marks for a high schooler? : ZITS
1. Criticize severely : LASHAT
2. Pump figure : OCTANE
3. Ranch irons : BRANDS
4. Lacking reason : SENSELESS
5. Weather map notations : HIGHS
6. Get used (to) : INURE
7. Woodworker's supply : STAIN
8. Some cats : TOMS
9. Actresses Shire and Balsam : TALIAS
10. Letter-shaped girder : HBEAM
11. Emulate Jack Sprat : EATNOFAT
12. Ungar of poker : STU
13. Broomstick riders : WITCHES
21. Ache for : CRAVE
22. Walk through deep snow, say : TRUDGE
25. Company endorsed by Tiger Woods : NIKE
26. Relative of a lutz : AXEL
28. Hospital count : BEDS
31. Most cool, in slang : ILLEST
32. City east of St.-Lô : CAEN
33. Weigh station wts. : TNS
34. Swiss "king of hoteliers" : CESARRITZ
35. Rio vis-à-vis the 2016 Olympics : HOST
36. Egyptian "key of life" : ANKH
37. It has a low percentage of alcohol : NEARBEER
38. Record again : RELOG
42. Like some farm cultivators : TWOROW
44. Drink sometimes served in a hollowed-out pineapple : MAITAI
45. N.F.L. career rushing leader ___ Smith : EMMITT
46. One of 11 pharaohs : RAMSES
48. Provide an address? : ORATE
49. Fizzle (out) : PETER
50. "Star Wars" droid : ARTOO
51. Justin Timberlake's former group : NSYNC
53. Hammerin' ___ : HANK
54. In the house : ATHOME
55. Dribble catcher : BIB

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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