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New York Times, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
L
2
O
3
B
4
S
5
H
6
I
7
S
8
T
9
T
10
H
11
E
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S
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WITCH
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A
C
R
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O
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A
B
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S
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G
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L
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H
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C
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N
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A
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T
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B
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F
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X
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E
V
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C
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T
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C
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K
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H
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N
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D
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R
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O
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L
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S
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A
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T
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L
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M
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R
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T
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O
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P
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N
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B
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H
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B
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A
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T
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N
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T
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HOME
B
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W
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K
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63
Z
I
T
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0122 ( 23,451 )
Across
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
Down
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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