2010 Jennifer Aniston movie / WED 1-22-14 / Swiss king of hoteliers / Quimby of children's lit / Music genre that influenced No Doubt / Like some farm cultivators

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Constructor: Jared Banta

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: HANSEL AND GRETEL (35A: Story mapped out in this grid, from lower left to upper right) — circles spell out BREAD CRUMBS and form a winding path leading from SW corner (where one square represents "HOME") to the NW corner (where another square represents "WITCH"). The fairy tale's publisher (BROTHERS GRIMM) (52A: Publishers of 35-Across, with "the") and … some guy who wrote fairy tales But Not This Fairy Tale (?!) (HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN) (20A: With 23-Across, giant in fairy tales) are also in the grid

Word of the Day: CÉSAR RITZ (34D: Swiss "king of hoteliers") —
César Ritz (23 February 1850 – 24 October 1918) was a Swiss hotelier and founder of several hotels, most famously theHôtel Ritz, in Paris and The Ritz Hotel in London. His nickname was "king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings," and it is from his name and that of his hotels that the term ritzy derives. (wikipedia)
• • •

This feels like a good core idea that did not get the execution it needed. The puzzle doesn't quite … come off, for a variety of reasons. Grid can't really capture the there-and-back-again quality of the story, so we just have the voyage to the WITCH. If the kids had died there, that would be great, but of course they didn't. Next, the "HOME" and "WITCH" squares (great idea to have those rebus squares) are poorly "hidden." Ideally, you would clue the rebus answers in such a way that the core meaning of the rebus square is masked (a la "THE S[witch]"—"witch" meaning is totally lost within the answer). But here we have [witch]ES, which is just sad, and then AT [home] / [home] BREW, both essentially preserving the meaning of [home], and therefore, not great as rebus squares. Very, very hard to disguise  them, I'll grant you. If you move them off the corners you've got a better shot. But let's move on.

Circles are not just arbitrary, they are the very definition of arbitrary. The arbitrariest. Completely randomly placed. But they capture the winningness of the route effectively, so I actually don't hate them. They make sense. But here's what doesn't *quite* make sense to me: I'm not fairy tale expert, but … what is HANS CHRISTIAN / ANDERSEN doing here (we'll leave the fact that ANDERSEN has no corresponding symmetrical theme answer for now)? I am looking through his oeuvre (cursorily, I'll grant you), and I can't find a version of "Hansel & Gretel." Actually, scratch that. I can find a *version*, but it's not actually called "HANSEL AND GRETEL"—it's called "The Pancake House"! Here it is. The characters are named Hans and Grethe. So … yes, it's a version. But, problem: that version has No Bread Crumbs. So this huge, two-tiered theme answer is here, but it has no direct relationship to the theme. It's just vaguely "fairy tale"-related. My fellow blogger thinks the clue probably originally referred directly to the theme, but was fact-checked late in the game, after the puzzle had been accepted and edited. So clue gets changed and you get this looong "theme" answer that just … hangs there. Sadly. Inaptly.

Oh, also, TNS. Never seen it. A 3-letter answer I've never seen. Huh. Interesting. Rest of the fill is pretty average. I mean, RELOG is horrid, as is HIST., and TWO-ROW is from outer space (42D: Like some farm cultivators), but the rest seems mostly fine. Love CÉSAR RITZ because who knew his name was CÉSAR!? Interesting trivia.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. here's something kind of cool—one of my readers sent me a photo of himself when he was a child, in the late '40s, in a cool cowboy outfit, standing in front of a house just a few doors down from where I currently live in Binghamton, NY. So naturally my wife and I went over and took a photo of me holding the old photo in front of that same house. Results here, at my wife's blog.


Elle54 12:07 AM  

I liked it! Thought it was really cute!

Garth 12:15 AM  

Loved the puzzle. I liked how it felt multi-layered. You had:
-the theme answers
-the path of bread crumbs,
-the house and the witch

Even though Rex's tone wasn't petulant, his overly-critical bent gets tedious. Kind of like the boy who cried wolf

Carola 12:21 AM  

Delightful. I loved the trail of BREADCRUMBS from HOME to WITCH and thought that CAKE might be a bonus theme answer, as in the GRIMM version, the witch's house is made of bread with a roof made of CAKE. BREW associated corner-wise with WITCHES was a nice added touch.

wreck 12:27 AM  

I thought it was a fun solve. Heck, I didn't know that Hans Christian Andersen had no relation to Hansel and Gretel until I read it here. What do I know!!

John Child 12:39 AM  

Nice multi-layered (@Garth) puzzle and an excellent debut. Thanks Mr Banta!

Unknown 12:39 AM  

Fun solve. Scratched at iBEAM/TiES(WITCH) but otherwise very smooth, and just when I needed them most, the bread crumb theme gave me a boost in the SW. Minimal crosswordese. Absolutely delightful puzzle.

I'd use this one as an example for new constructors. Theme and execution dovetailed flawlessly.

Benko 12:49 AM  

I liked the trail of breadcrumbs leading from HOME to WITCH, nice theme. But HANSCHRISTIANANDERSON is pretty bizarre.

Questinia 12:56 AM  

There's no return because this is post-modern Hansel and Gretel. They either

A. Ate the witch with a chianti and took up residence themselves. Yeah they drink. They smoke too. They were later joined by the Little Mermaid who introduced them to weed. Then they all ate the house.
B. Were eaten by the witch without much preamble. Children=>taser=>microwave.
C. Witchie-poo was EVICTED and the house was sold to Jack Sprat and the Mrs. who adopted the children as they were clearly latch-key children with abusive parents. It's all in the case-worker's records. You doubt me? Well that's just your opinion. This is post-modern. That they ever returned is subjective and is literally known to be a fairy tale. Now you know why.

Ask the constructor, Mr. Banta. He knows.

... I have no recipes for BREAD CRUMBS.

andersen christian maitais 1:00 AM  

Once upon a time, there was a constructor. He made worked very hard and made a marvelous puzzle that had many layers and was super fun to solve.
Unfortunately there was an ogre, clever but grumpy, who tried to eat him up and spit him out.
But he lived happily ever after anyway.

August West 1:05 AM  


Well, it was a hell of a lot better than yesterday's. I'm with the ogre on yesterday's.

Really enjoyed today's, though. Nice debut, Jared!

chefwen 1:09 AM  

@Questinia - They probably got the weed from Hanalei so I'm surprised that's all they ate.

Very cute puzzle, I enjoyed all its aspects from the WITCH to the HOME to the breadcrumbs.

rap to SKA was my only write-over. I wouldn't know the difference between the two if they both sat in my lap.

A fun Wednesday outing.

jae 1:17 AM  

Pretty easy for a Wed.  Paused to figure out that there was a rebus involved.   Only major erasure was yearn for CRAVE.  Cute/dense theme with a mostly smooth grid and a little bit of zip...NSYNC, ARTOO, SKA, STAN, ZITS (a comic strip clue would have been zippier), NEAR BEER crossing HOME BREW... (just ignore TNS).   The BREAD CRUMBS were a nice touch.  Liked it.   Nice debut Jared!

Steve J 2:23 AM  
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Steve J 2:27 AM  

Ultimately, I felt like this puzzle tried too hard to do too much. I liked the BREAD CRUMBS in the circles (and generally I'm not fond of circles), and tying that in with HANSEL AND GRETEL and the BROTHERS GRIMM. But the two rebus squares felt gratuitous (especially with the pretty obscure movie THE SWITCH), since the BREAD CRUMB representation is absolutely gettable without the additional info (and because in a very literal sense, the bread crumbs are supposed to lead home, not to the witch). And I'm really struggling to see how HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN fit in (both figuratively and literally: ANDERSEN does not have a symmetrical theme pairing), other than that he was the most-famous fairy tale writer outside the aforementioned brothers.

I personally would have liked to have seen things dialed back a bit. As Jeff Chen said at XWordinfo: "For me, this felt like a case where 'less is more' would have been appreciated."

I personally Naticked at the CESAR RITZ / TATE crossing. I kick myself over the second half of that, as I really love John Singer Sargent. But, stupidly, when I saw "Sargent" in the clue, all I could think of was Dick Sargent. And I was pretty sure there was no allusion to Bewitched here.

Nice idea, pretty good fill overall, but the theme needed to be dialed back. Trust your solvers to get what's going on without overemphasizing it.

Steve J 2:34 AM  

@Questinia: Your postmodern Hansel and Gretel analysis may be my favorite thing i've ever read here.

@Garth: As tedious as you find Rex's commentary, daily commentary on Rex's commentary is equally as tedious to at least some other readers. Your impressions are strong enough without having to contrast them, especially every day.

retired_chemist 2:54 AM  

Easy, but DNF. How could I misspell it EMMeTT, as much as a fan of him as I was/am? Didn't even see the clue for 57A so in reviewing my answers, ITeS just seemed like a partial or like it was clued by "Adherents." Oh well. Mea culpa.

Thanks, Mr. Banta.

Thomas808 7:21 AM  

Since I'm sitting in GUAM as I write this, 18A was a big gimme. Being 15 hours ahead of EST, the puzzle arrives here at 1 pm, which is a huge distraction at work! Back home in Hawaii, it arrives at 5 pm, which is perfect.

Enjoyed the puzzle. Seeing the circles, I didn't expect a rebus. Skipped the NE rebus at first but the SW was obvious, so "circled" back to complete. It was fun!

Loren Muse Smith 7:38 AM  

Ok. Bigger head-scratcher for me than Hansgate is that RAMONA's last name is Quimby? I would have sworn it was Beasley. Where did I get that? It was in second grade that I started to THROW around the names of my favorite authors into whatever conversation I could get them INTO, feeling oh-so smart: "When we go to the library, I immediately look for any Haywood or Cleary I can get my hands on." Sigh. Sniff sniff.

I could have lived the rest of my life never questioning that HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN was responsible for HANSEL AND GRETEL, and to Rex, et al, I'm impressed that y'all would even think to look into that.

Also, I like Rex' idea of disguising the two rebus answers more, but agree it would be really hard. WHOMEVER, TACHOMETER. . . Hey – it was hidden in THE SWITCH - @Steve J, one man's "pretty obscure movie" is another's, "Man, I gotta see that." I did. Liked it.

You know, we have Jakob Grimm personally to thank for the fact that it's a P or D in Romance languages, père, deux but an F or T in Germanic languages, father, two. And you won't find any explanation of GRIMM's law any LAMER than that ridiculous nutshell.

@Questinia – Hah! How funny! Herculean restraint to eschew those fava beans with the Chianti?

I liked BEER crossing BREW, and early on briefly considered "e-beer" for HOME BREW, scrambling for some sort of rationalisation. (Morning, @Bob K and Steve J.)

The ending UDGE in English seems to suffer a lot from this quality I can't quite put my finger on – a sort of muckITIS – thick, dense feel that makes everything slow motion:

Even after a big nudge, I couldn't budge my pudge of a dog, "Fudge," to TRUDGE through the sludge.

In Chattanooga, we owned a huge stack of, well, "records," we called them. My avatar is ONE Mom would put on a "record player" in our room (yes, we shared a room) so that we could listen as we went to sleep. The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, PETER and the Wolf, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Prince and the Pauper (my favorite). . . and we had TWO yells to Mom or Dad watching TV in the living room:

"It's stu –uck!" (sing-songy) and "Turn it o –ver!" (again, sing-songy)

Hey, Jared – nice debut. And we all learned something. A good day.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:04 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle for the same reason that a joke is funny - it upset my expectations for a Wednesday. But I did share @Rex's bewilderment at the connection to poor HANS CHRISTIAN, who went into my grid as ANDERSON before correcting to ANDERSEN.

And I am apparently dumbing down for Tournament Season - I finished with TNA and LEASEES because I never went back to Check My Work!

AliasZ 8:19 AM  
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r.alphbunker 8:23 AM  

Great misdirection on the "giant in fairy tales" clue. And I laughed out loud when I got the WITCH rebus. I really like this kind of puzzle which goes beyond the straightforward use of words to express an idea.

According to Wikipedia, birds ate the breadcrumbs. I had forgotten this perhaps because as a programmer I have used breadcrumb navigation on web sites to allow the user to return to previous pages.

And why did the birds waste time on lousy breadcrumbs when there was a house made of cake in the neighborhood? They should have listened to Marie Antoinette.

joho 8:24 AM  

Loved the circles being BREAD CRUMBS! I also was surprised and delighted at the two rebus squares.

I wondered if they TRUDGEd from HOME to the WITCH?

ABEAR and BEDS evoked Goldilocks.

And PETER, the wolf.

Fantastic puzzle, Jared Banta, storybook construction ...and congrats on your debut!

@Questinia, so funny!

AliasZ 8:26 AM  

Today's theme had a limp. If 49A were CANNIBAL instead of PANORAMA, it would have made it a nice, symmetrical theme.

@Rex, you may want to correct the typo in your write-up: "But they capture the winningness of the route effectively...".

The idea of the BREADCRUMBS was to lead HANSEL AND GRETEL back home, however the birds ate the crumbs which is why the children got lost and wondered around in the forest for days before stumbling upon the gingerbread house.

I find it SENSELESS to over-analyze fairy tales. All of them have their roots in folklore. People like HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON, the BROTHERS GRIMM, perhaps even Aesop, collected their stories and wrote them down with varying amounts of embellishment. The ANDERSON tale of The Pancake House is a prime example. Different regions and countries had different versions of the same, or very similar, tales throughout Europe and beyond. I liked @Questinia's version C the best.

Few three-letter entries are LAMER than TNS. "Tons" is such a long word, it needs to be abbreviated. Makes sense to me. Acronymfinder.com returns 48 matches for TNS, my favorite being The Naturist Society based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, whose quarterly publication, Nude & Natural "offers readers a deftly balanced blend of timely news and features, incisive commentary and reviews, and perceptive site reports from naturist venues near and far. That and more. And it's all tastefully illustrated with images that take you to the very heart of the naturist experience."

LASHAT, ILLEST, RELOG, TWOROW, TIETO, ABEAR (not unlike adrip and atrip) were a STAIN on this otherwise pleasant, multilayered puzzle. I loved the two rebus squares as a bonus, which gave it an extra kick. The reference to Mr. & Mrs. Sprat did not go unnoticed.

Neither did the inclusion of PETER and the Wolf.

jberg 8:38 AM  

@Loren -- I think Ramona has a sister (or maybe a friend) named "Beezus" - that's probably where your memory comes from.

@Chefwen -- SKA is what the band plays while you're enjoying a game of SKAT.

DNF, because:
a) I got the rebus with HOME, which is just - HOME, both ways; then saw "WITCHES," at 13D, so expected the WITCH at 8A to be one, too.
b) Had no idea about either the Aniston movie or the 9D actresses, and
c) Did not ever entertain the possibility that i-beam could possibly be anything else (I was just so glad it wasn't I-BAR that I stopped thinking at that point).

While I didn't like thinking of those EVICTED LESSEES, I did like the way they were paired. Not so much on the HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN / PANORAMA BROTHERS GRIMM.

But yeah, the BREAD CRUMBS between the rebus squares were great, so I thought it was a good puzzle with minor flaws - but unfortunately for me, those flaws kept me from solving it.

Only 3D??? Those are "branding irons," they make a brand, but they are not BRANDS.

Notsofast 8:56 AM  

On the easy side, but pretty great for a debut. I like the way J.B.'s mind works. An indication of good puzzles to come. And, Rex: I Like your photo, but you're too young to be as cranky as you are ( wink wink ).

Z 9:03 AM  

Why didn't he erase the bird-consumed BREAD CRUMBS and then clue the resulting words?

This is like one of my 🏠BREWs, interesting, different, but with an off-note.

Unknown 9:03 AM  

@Loren - we had those records too. I loved Peter and the Wolf!

Only bungle was an I BEAM, instead of H. Had I known the Aniston movie (I'm sure it was wonderful, but clearly not one for the ages) it would have been easier to sort out. THESWITCH is definitely a personal Natick.

Unknown 9:07 AM  

Fun, easy, but ultimately odd. The trail of CRUMBS was cute, the rebus squares were ok, but I'm with Rex on the weirdness of WitchES, and the inclusion of HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN and some of the blech fill.

Mohair Sam 9:11 AM  

Easy-medium here. Thought this puzzle was clever and enjoyed the chuckle we got when we discovered the bread crumbs.

I liked the cluing a lot except for the HANSgate matter. That seemed odd, I think @rex may have given us the reason why.

Tip o' the hat to @Steve J for pointing out that daily complaining about Rex's tediousness is tedious.

Nifty photo within a photo from Rex, btw - he should have borrowed a cowboy hat for the shot (I get the feeling he may not own one).

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

This is a NYTimes applet question..I am trying here bc I can't get an answer from them. Is anyone having plug-in failure message when trying to solve online for time? Any solutions? Sorry for posting this here but in need of help! thanks

Keldy23 9:17 AM  

Funnily enough, I happen to be reading The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen right now. Though this may not be enough to support his inclusion in the puzzle, he was heavily influenced by Hansel and Gretel in a number of his stories, and The Tinderbox includes a trail of breadcrumbs (though not leading from a witch to home, but from a castle to a soldier). I suspect that the inclusion of the (I think) obscure "Tinderbox" and opposite corner entries from "castle" to "soldier" would have made this puzzle far, far too ungettable for anyone who didn't, unlike me, happen to be reading The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen at the time.

Anyway, wanted to point out the slight connection for anyone who may find it interesting.

Newbie (still) 9:19 AM  

@ACME - Hilarious write up - I agree. I'm still laughing.

I loved this puzzle. A fun solve.

John V 9:23 AM  

Worked fine here, but 9A was hard, 'cause no movie/pop culture domain knowledge; just wrote in WITCH and crossed my fingers.

Lewis 9:47 AM  

Q - I think when the kids found out she had Netflix, they just decided to stay.

I liked the little journey from home to witch, and there's very little grid gruel here. The HANDSCHRISTIANANDERSEN has a clever clue, but is confusing. But I like the puzzle too much to complain about this.

I say, bravo Jared!

GILL I. 9:47 AM  

All the great fun things about this puzzle have been said so I will tell you my BREAD story.

My father always fancied himself an Epicurean. Although he wasn't a cook per se (other than whipping up the finest asados this side of Argentina) he knew his food. At our table though, he never, ever, ever, allowed processed slice white bread rear its ugly head. It was always a baguette here, a ciabatta there, a finely sliced German rye but you would not see a Bimbo or Wonder loaf at the dining table.
Anyway, my stepmother who is French and the finest cook I know, had to leave Miami and go to Nice to tend to her mother who was ill. Dad was left to his own culinary devices much to his annoyance. After a couple of weeks of eating at friends' homes and trying the local restaurants, he got tired of Moros y Cristianos, lechon, yuca con mojo, fried platanos and the inevitable Napoleon for dessert. So, he calls me in San Francisco and begins to tell me how much he misses me and then lets slip about how he misses Monique and her food etc. etc. Dad could be pretty persuasive and it didn't take him long to just come out and ask me to take a weeks vacation and really, since I could fly for free, this wouldn't be a problem and besides Miami was balmy this time of year and frankly "you're the only one I can turn to because you sorta cook like Monique and you know the foods I like."
So, I'm off to placate a man I adored...
While dad is at the office the next day, I start rummaging through the pantry to see what I might need for the baked yellowtail snapper dinner I was preparing. As I'm poking around in the back, I find this half used loaf of fresh sliced WHITE BREAD...Now this wouldn't raise any eyebrows in any home I've been to other than mine but after seeing *it* I started to choke and sputter. I thought it might be the housekeeper's but she only ate galletas...!
After finishing our last bite of dinner that night, I casually look at dad and tell him of my find. His neck turns beet red so I know the jig is up. He swallows a bit then looks at me and tells me to follow him to the kitchen. He then proceeds to pull out 2 slices of the white bread and carefully lays it down on the cutting board. He then goes over to the fridge and in the back he pulls out a small jar of Best Food mayonnaise. (Monique always made her own). Then he finds a red onion and brings it all over. He then pulls out his very sharp Henckel knife and tells me to back away...He proceeds to slice the onion very slowly and very thinly. Then he slathers a ton of mayo on the bread, carefully piling the onions on top and then he ceremoniously plops the bread together and very, very carefully, cuts the sandwich into a perfect triangle. He hands me one of the triangles and tells me to take a big bite out of the center, then bring the morsel up to the roof of my mouth and let it sit there for a bit, then chew it slowly and swallow. He looks at me and smiles. I smile back. He asks me not to tell anyone in the family...I promise...except after his funeral I tell everyone. My stepmom doesn't believe me but my siblings do. We call it the WBO sandwich and to this day, every time I get sick, there is only one things I want to eat that will make me feel better...
And that is no Fairy Tale.

chefbea 9:49 AM  

Pretty easy but did not get the rebus part. Loves the clue for Tate!!!

@Questina…I of course have a recipe for bread crumbs!!!

lawprof 10:29 AM  

Fun, breezy Wednesday. Felt pretty smug that I knew how to spell ANDERSEN. Slowed down by hungry as ABEAR -- I wanted "horse" until I realized I was thinking, "so hungry I could eat a horse." Duh.

Two quickly-fixed writeovers: attu/GUAM; deeS/ZITS (nice misdirection there).

(Had to refresh the captcha five times to see it).

Like I said: fun, fun, fun. Thanks Jared; keep 'em comin'.

Rivers 10:39 AM  

I, for one, bookmark Rex's blog just for the comments. We rarely agree on anything: level of difficulty, quality, or what's in our respective wheelhouses. And I generally miss the theme and its execution. So I skim his critique, mutter "whatever" and head here to see what the fun people have to say. I was delighted with today's puzzle even though I made the same idiotic error with iBEAM. I was so proud to have caught the whole fairy tale, bread crumbs thing that Hans' presence bothered me not a whit. Fun time!

PapaLeroux 10:41 AM  

I liked it. I almost never agree with Rex. I wonder what that means?

Steve J 10:51 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Growing up in Minnesota paid off for me with ANDERSEN. I knew Andersons and I knew Andersens (the same o/e thing occurs with nearly every other common Scandinavian surname there), so I knew to hesitate there and let the cross fill it in. I would guess a lot of people immediately filled it in with O.

@lawprof: I had the exact same thought progression with "hungry as A BEAR" and first wanting to put in HORSE. And then having the duh moment when I remembered the actual phrases.

Garth 10:59 AM  

@Steve J: I find your expression of ennui--in response to my feelings of tedium, which were a reaction to Rex's sameness--to be quite predictable.

Benko 11:01 AM  

Beezus was the nickname of RAMONA's older sister, given to her by Ramona when she wasn't old enough to talk properly, if I recall. Loved those books as a kid too. Also Henry and his dog Ribsy, and Otis Spifford (Spofford?).
ANDERSEN like the Birdman.

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

Interesting puzzle but why on earth take up such large part of the grid with the name of an author unrelated to the theme?
DNF because of the movie title.

If anyone has time to spare, the Grimm brothers did much more than publish fairy tales and are worth a Google.

Mohair Sam 11:07 AM  

@Gill I.P. - Cute story. WBO? Sounds just awful. Talk about an odd comfort food, but hey - whatever works.

h_lina_k 11:26 AM  

They are I Beams not H Beams.

RnRGhost57 11:27 AM  

Nice work for a debut. Thanks Jared.

@Garth 10:59, I knew you'd say that.

Sandy K 11:29 AM  

As a young girl, I was given a book of HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN's fairy tales which fascinated me, despite the fact that some of the stories were Not quite Disney material-eg. The gruesome demise of 'The Little Match Girl'...but I did Not recall HANSEL AND GRETEL THROWing breadcrumbs and TRUDGing thru the woods, so HCA threw it off, imo...

However, I so enjoyed the theme, the trail of breadcrumbs and the rebi that I must give Jared Banta a HIGH
7+ ON THE ONE TO TEN scale.

ludyjynn 11:32 AM  

For me, an easy, enjoyable Wednesday. Alas, no breadcrumbs to follow as they are buried under the 14 inches of freshly fallen snow.

Mssked and AnonymoUUUs 11:33 AM  

Works for me. breadsticksUp debUt.

Bein weeject-oriented, M&A naturally began his quest at the two 3-letter answers in the NE. Was immediately all-in fascinated by the possibilities for 3-letter broomstick riders. Totally mesmerized. Must. Get. That. Answer. First.

Jennifer Aniston just laid there, and let me do all the work. Prayin didn't seem to help. I was pretty sure the poker dude was named WES. Or maybe ACE. Or maybe I had no idea. Drop off could be CLIFF. Or a few hundred other things. Day-um. All this time, I am havin this weird cravin for cinnamon roll crumbs...

* * *

TNS! Weeject of the Week (WOW)! Lovinly placed dead-center in the puz, allowin us to fully bask in its glorious desperation! The ecstasy! Rex? Oh, Rex . . .


andy 11:33 AM  

Well done, I was going to abuse Rex for the write-up, but can't top this. I'm not sure he can live happily ever after as long as he keeps this blog going?

Sfingi 11:34 AM  

Parts of this puzzle threw me - I never expected a rebus along with the pattern and a theme, both of which I, luckily, got. It passed through my mind that my future in puzzles will be bleak with youth-based media. I have to keep reminding myself who this Justin Timberlake is.
The worst was TESLA. How dare they name such a pointless band (I listened to it) after one of my heroes?

I agree with most of @Loren (her name of the day).

The Grimm Bros are much underappreciated - and, again, misused in the latest TV show. After first being assigned to collect fairy tales by Brentano, they took off from there, categorizing, following the tales and language from India to Ireland, and creating the aforementioned Grimm's rules. Their ideas have been seconded through DNA studies.

The puzzle was, actually, very clever, I must say, and aroused much interest. Keep it up, Banta!

AliasZ 11:47 AM  

Of course it's ANDERSEN - sorry for the typo at 8:26AM. I also forgot to mention that I enjoyed this puzzle despite its few shortcomings and all this banta about fairy tales and recipes for BREADCRUMBS. An excellent debut effort by Jared Banta.

The rebus squares could not have been easily incorporated into words or phrases with different meanings. No word starting with WITCH has a meaning other than relating to WITCHcraft. Person of "WIT, CHarm and grace" would be rather difficult to clue. Perhaps "Like Andrea, Loren or Questinia" could work, but it would be unfair to outsiders, and to Rex. For HOME it's a bit easier: tricHOME, and HOMEric epos, like the Iliad or the Odyssey.

Lots of French in this one: a PANORAMA of beautiful CAEN, LA MER, LA SHAT, LE TUS, LES SEES.

SENSELESS, LESSEES and NEAR BEER: These three entrees had more than one-third of all E's in the puzzle.

ART00 -- Precedes ART 101.
HIST -- Guy's undershirt.
ILLEST -- "My ballpark figure will be..." for short.
RELOG -- Heading of memo about Christmas firewood.
ITIS -- Appendix to appendic.
TWOROW -- NY talk radio in drag [WOR inside T___OW; too cryptic?]

I couldn't let RAMONA go without this classic rendition.

Z 11:51 AM  

@Garth - while I agree with @Steve J, I did enjoy your riposte. (confession - had to look up how to spell riposte because the grey noodle wouldn't let go of "repost" even though the noodle knew it to be wrong).

Speaking of Grey Noodles, Joey Fatone, fellow 'N Sync member of Justin Timberlake, was spotted yesterday doing a hair replacement ad. No, I did not feel old at all as I watched that ad.

@M&A - regarding Ms. Aniston just lying there, perhaps it was a weeject issue...? (Sorry, it was such a softball, I couldn't resist taking the swing)

White bread story - Father-in-law loves white bread dipped in bacon fat, a comfort food from his youth growing up in Polish neighborhoods in Buffalo. His cholesterol is great and he had a doctor order him to reduce his intake of things like broccoli and kale because the vitamin K was messing with his heart. Genetics beats diet every time.

Guster 11:57 AM  


M and Anearbear 12:04 PM  

Top 3-letter broomstick riders:
1. CDS. Hafta use the broom pole as a sorta record shaft.
2. DAS. This answer courtesy of Gov. Christie.
3. VWS. This choice kinda bugs me, tho.
4. EXS. har!
5. USN. This is pretty 4-Down, but does bolster the anemic U-count.
6. RNS. Especially ones bearing enema bottles.
7. TNS. Lordy I just love that "Sxtn Tns" song. Opening tune in the Joe vs. the Volcano flick. And some TNS (short for toons) do ride on broomsticks.
8. JRS. As in Wicked Witch of the West, Jr.
9. FTS. If U stand on the broomstick.
10. IRS. Tis the season...
11. ASS. Could be considered plural, if it's a remarkably wide one.


mac 12:24 PM  

Nice puzzle! Got home before witch as well.

On my 4th birthday my father gave me a beautifully illustrated book with all Hans Christian Andersen's stories. I still have it.

dk 12:25 PM  

🌟🌟🌟🌟(4 Stars) A couple of clunkers (e.g.. TNS) and the origins of most Fairy Tails are obscure so the HCA reference was not so far off.

Moral of the story is not all as it may seem. Used story this a lot with clients when I was trying to explain how some can be so bad yet seem so good (note to new comers was a forensic psychologist for 20 some years and in some cases adults did eat children). Any way now that you are all disgusted…

Great puzzle with a fun theme. Hence 4 twinkle ones.


Milford 12:47 PM  

Liked the trickiness of the corner rebi - I didn't get it until the very end of the solve. My real problem was in the RELOG/LAMER area. I had REtaG at first, so them tAMER (lion-tamer? maybe?). But then PANaRAMA was obviously wrong.

Thanks to a Danish great-grandmother I know that Danish names are -SEN, and not -SON.

Love the RAMONA Quimby clue (and yes, it was a sister named Beezus/Beatrice). Also liked the EAT NO FAT clue.

@Gill I.P. - love your white bread story. I think we all have those guilty-comfort foods, where we would cringe if anyone saw us eating them.

We had a set of tapes (oooh, high-tech, eh @Loren?) of fairy tales, and one of the ANDERSEN stories involved some girl (or girls) dancing until their feet fell off/were cut off? Obviously I'm forgetting the details, but it was gruesome. Another was the Golden Goose, a story that involved limbs being hacked off. Good times.

Ellen S 1:09 PM  

I know the phrase "flaming brand" from somewhere and googling that (with the quote marks) turns up some literary references. And Wiktionary.org says there is an archaic meaning for "brand" of "a piece of wood, red hot or still burning, from the fire.".

But I thought I'd never get that NW corner. Never heard of STU Ungar, the beam could be H, L, I, ... who knows, there may be beams for every letter of the alphabet, and 9A didn't make any sense no matter what I put in. Even when I got the HOME rebus in the opposite corner, I was still confused, until I remembered the BREADCRUMBS. They didn't get the children home in the story, but they got me to the WITCHES house.

My comfort food is toasted rye bread, buttered and with sugar sprinkled on top. It was a special treat if I was sick when a kid.

The captcha is ... ??? after days of those easy all-numbers, it's the mashed-up letters from hell. Maybe you will never see this post ...

Ellen S 1:13 PM  

Hah! It worked! I am the king of captchas!!!

Anyway, I was also wondering, @R.alph, if an EBRO is somebody you meet online, is ISIS a female sibling manufactured by Apple? (Okay, I'm leaving before somebody hurts me.)

chefbea 1:19 PM  

@Ellen good ones!!!

Questinia 1:28 PM  

@ Gill IP~ What a story... the sandwich actually sounds delicious.

@ loren. Yes and for some reason I also had to eschew "put the lotion in the basket". Which is pretty strange because I have since read the plot summary of H&G and:

A. The witch (like Jame Gumb and the kidnapped girl) keeps Hansel to be fattened up for later nefarious intent.
B. Gretel, like Clarice and Gumb, ultimately is the one who kills the witch with similar trickery and decisiveness.
C. Gretel frees Hansel from his cage like Clarice frees the girl from the bottom of the cistern.

Perhaps Mr. Banda should have included Jonathan Demme @ Lewis, instead of Hans C. Andersen. And as @ Alias Z says there is folkloric cross-pollination...

Netflix Melange:

*Silence of the Lambs The Musical* as scored by Frank Loesser and sung by Danny Kaye:

Vicious little thing
Hannibalina kill
Hannibalina sting
Hannibalina, what's the difference
If your heart is small?
When your mind is full of hate
You're nine feet tall!

I will be stepping away from this topic now. Images of Anthony Hopkins spinning en pointe in a tutu and fright mask....

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

How a puzzle with such a low amount of theme material can have so much crap, I'll never know.

Last Silver Bull Woot 1:32 PM  

re: that picture of 4-Oh standin in front of that brick house, holdin up somethin while posin for pictures...

Top things goin thru the minds of the folks livin inside the brick house:
* Publisher's Clearin House Sweepstakes! Sweet!
* Hey! The guy that wrote that HOGCALLS puz!
* If they make an offer on this money pit, let's take it.
* Day-um. They're surveyin for that I-81 bypass.
* They look like religious zealots; don't answer the door, if they knock.
* I sent that dude a ten buck donation, but made the mistake of givin a return address.
* Har. Typical. Two blocks from home, and he's lost!
* Hey! No! The dude that wrote that "worst puz of 2013" lives across the street!
* He's held a grudge, ever since I directed that pitiful choir night performance.
* Is he wearin his pajamas under that coat?!?


@Z: Yep. Made it toooo easy for yah. U are now downgraded to a semi-magnificent beast. har.

sanfranman59 4:05 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 10:49, 10:26, 1.04, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:32, 6:12, 1.22, 90%, Challenging

Tom C. 4:10 PM  

Thought this puzzle was very fun and a perfect Wednesday solve for me, a relative newbie to wordplay. Sadly, I had not a clue what a rebus was or how one could know to sub in a whole word for a square -- before reading these comments. Now, of course, it seems obvious. Am anxious to ace the next one ... !

Also, I assumed I had "Lamer" incorrect, because how could Debussy have written a hilarious, Valley-girl named tune? LOL.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

The story you are thinking of is "The Red Shoes". It is very gruesome!

Billy 5:39 PM  

Some of the fill was bad, but great puzzle otherwise, and your criticism of the rebus (rebi?) is way over my head, or you're just being difficult.

Garth 6:26 PM  

@RnRGhost57: It's like deja vu all over again.

@Z: Thanks. I stayed up all night composing that sentence.

retired_chemist 6:27 PM  

Someone needs to think of a plot for a Jennifer Aniston movie named TiE SWITCH.

Z 6:57 PM  

@retired_chemist - I think M&A already did: "Jennifer Aniston just laid there, and let me do all the work. Prayin didn't seem to help. I was pretty sure the poker dude was named WES. Or maybe ACE. Or maybe I had no idea. Drop off could be CLIFF. Or a few hundred other things. Day-um. All this time, I am havin this weird cravin for cinnamon roll crumbs..."

Dave 7:25 PM  

Agree was easy and that "tns" is garbage fill. Was stumped a bit trying to think of the name of a giant in a fairy tale, but ended up with too many crosses to not figure it out. Had a brief stumble with "output" from a pump as opposed to "octane". Never heard an I-beam called an H-beam either. When used, it is oriented as an "I" in order to provide better load capacity.

sanfranman59 10:12 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon no data
Tue 8:46, 8:15, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 10:46, 10:26, 1.03, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 5:37, 5:12, 1.08, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 7:09, 6:12, 1.15, 85%, Challenging

Today's 296 online solvers is second only to the 275 for Doug Peterson's New Year's Day puzzle. Rebus puzzles have a nasty way of skewing the All Solvers statistics. I trust today's Top 100 Challenging rating over the All Solvers Medium-Challenging, but this rating method is probably not ideal for evaluating an unusual puzzle like a Wednesday rebus.

Numinous 10:40 PM  

This was fun. I put ANDERSEN because I couldn't think of anything other than INURE that might fit. ~SONs and ~SeNs are always a problem, or almost always. I don't have any of the complaints that @Rex has. THESWITCH didn't bother me at all, in fact, I think I've seen that movie. The rebuses (rebi?) surprised me because this isn't Thursday but then, who said that all Thursdays have to have rebuses and no other days can have them? Empirically, that's not true at all and I like surprises.

Now, as for @Rex: he's a tad young to be a curmudgeon but nobody will deny that he's the Andy Rooney of Crossworld. Whether he truly believes, in his heart, what he says, he always stirs lively debate and, given the degree to which I digress, he believes, to a fault, in free speech as he's not banned me from his comments. I don't always agree with him but he always gives me something to think about where I may not have thought at all.

And now, I shall digress.

I thought about yesterday's answer, ARTOO. Y'all know the origin of that? I recognized it immediately I heard it thirty-some years ago, Artoodeetoo. In Australia I was a film editor but when I came home and needed to get into the union, my Australian experience didn't qualify me for that job. I needed work and eventually got an offer to be a music editor at Hanna-Barbera.
That's a sound job. Sound FX etc. When we would go to a dub, that's when we'd mix all of the sound tracks down to a single track so it could be married to the image, producing a single cohesive unit called a "movie," we would all, sound FX editors, music editors, foley editors, and dialogue editors would assemble the fruits of our labors on reels to be mixed together. My tracks might be labled R1 Mx1 and R1 Mx2, meaning reel one, music tracks one and two. George Lucas was looking at the tracks for a "dub" and saw R2 D2 and thought that would be a good name for that droid. Reel two, dialogue two. And oh boy, is he chatty, nearly worse than C3PO.

Numinous 10:41 PM  

Digression continued:

Okay, so nobody ponied up. Well, I will. @Questinia, I have a breadcrumb recipe. My daughter spent a year studying at the University of New South Wales or, Sydney Uni. While there, she needed to work. Her work experience in the U. S. qualified her for a job at a local Subway. Did you know that there are a ton of Subway franchises in Australia? Anyway she told us about a sandwich they have there that we don't have here but that reminded her of food that I'd cooked and that she enjoyed. Mostly she doesn't like any meat other than chicken and the occasional turkey. The sandwich they have there is a chicken schnitzel subway. I make a wiener schnitzel that she likes which is a surprise. When she described the sandwich to us, we decided to try it. Oh boy, yummy! This won't exactly be a recipe but possibly more a discussion of schnitzel. When I googled schnitzel I discovered that it was a way of cooking, not that it had anything specifically to do with veal. In fact, any meat will do as long as it's cut thin enough.

So, here's schnitzel:

Some meat
Some flour
Some beaten up egg
Some bread crumbs (you can buy bread crumbs or make them. Bread toasted on Monday and used on Tuesday is usually better than freshly toasted bread but it all works. Just toss it in a blender and crunch it all up.)Panko works too
Some oil for frying
Some fresh lemons

Take the meat and, if it's a chicken breast, slice it horizontally into two or three thin pieces, depending on how how sharp your knife is and how good you are using it. With veal, ask the butcher for scalopini slices as thin as possible. You could try slicing horizontally as per above but I'd suggest getting it to nearly freezing first.
Real schnitzel is meant to be paper-thin. I knew of an Austrian guy who would order wiener schnitzel, then hold it up and if he couldn't see light through it, send it back. So, if you can't get it that thin and you want it to be that way, get out the old hammer and beat it to death. I don't care and maybe prefer the meat to be a little thicker. Once you have satisfactory slices, dredge them in some of the flour insuring that they are completely covered. Then dip them into some of the beaten eggs or eggs, again, insuring they are completely wet. Next, dredge them in the breadcrumbs. They may need coaxing to get the bread crumbs to adhere to the entire surface of the meat.
Heat oil in a frying pan or skillet. Olive oil seems best to me but you need a lot. A quarter inch deep in the pan. Squeeze lemon juice onto the schnitzels before you place them, lemoned side down, into the hot oil. They should nearly float. If they don't, you'll peel the bread crumbs off no mater how you try to turn them, tongs, spatula, whatever. Squeeze more lemon juice on the top, un-lemoned side as they cook. Really thin schnitzels don't need much cooking, a couple minutes per side. You be the judge based on the thickness of the meat.
Serve with whatever vegetables you like and quarters or eights of lemon so your guests can add flavor or not.

I'm not fond of chicken though I'll eat it. In my past I had more chickens for dinner than I liked and got fed up with it. Four or five nights a week for years? Gimme a break, I had a lifetime of chicken. Chicken schnitzel? I love it and will make it whenever the occasion arises. But schnitzel can be made with almost any meat. I've made it with beef, veal and chicken. Pork is possible. Buffalo, deer, elk, moose; all are possible. I've even used that precise method cooking sole for another daughter of mine.

So, @Qustinia, bread crumbs are an essential ingredient of one particular style of cooking. Just as fairy tales are an essential ingredient in this particular puzzle.

spacecraft 12:02 PM  

So we finally meet Jabba's buried monster, the Banta. Don't eat me, dude; I'm fat. You EATNOFAT, right? Hey, keep your wife away from me!

Having thus escaped digestion a la H&G, I continue to puzz. This was fun, and I was only temporarily held up by trying to think of some named "giant" WITHIN some fairy tale rather than a "giant" of the genre.

[Compare the bit between Kirk and Spock on the present-day bus in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" as the Vulcan struggles with vulgarisms. K: "You'll find it in the literature of the period." S: "For instance?" K: "Harold Robbins." S: "Ah. The GIANTS."]

BTW, STIV was for me head and shoulders the best of the series; I note that it was the only one directed by Nimoy.

Digression over. The rebi were predictably easy to suss out. I know where OFL is coming from on that score, but as there are only two, I don't think rebus was the focus of this opus. Besides, this IS but Wedensday. We should not expect a HIGH order of trickiness. Also, I shared his disappointment when PANORAMA did not appear to be theme-connected. Even the "bread" sandwiching the central entry is a sub-theme: EVICTED LESSEES.

Of course, as soon as I saw what the theme was, and those randomly-placed circles, I knew they were the BREAD CRUMBS. So, pretty easy to fill in. Aside from the hideous TNS, I don't think that fill was bad at all. I know our rookie felt bad about that, but left it because everything else works so beautifully in there. Ya can't have everything, Jared.

New fact I learned: Smith spells his first name with an I?? All this time I never noticed that. Sorry about that, EMMITT.

Just noticed I referenced both Star Wars and Star Trek in the same blog. See? We CAN all be friends!

55522. Seen worse.

DMG 2:33 PM  

With HANS.... at the start of 20A, the fairy tale duo came immediately to mind, so was surprised when they showed up a little further down the grid where they belonged. Drew a cute little building in the bottom corner, but the W(itch) square? I left it blank. Know zilch about the cited movie, and built my whatever with an iBEAM, and the resulting TiES_? didn't ring any bells. Either cronES or witchES could be seen on a broom, and neither made any sense. Following the breadcrumbs led me to a DNF! Better than the cauldron!

Top @spaxecraft with 66633.

Dirigonzo 3:39 PM  

@cascokid san commented early-on: "Scratched at iBEAM/TiES(WITCH)" - me too. Must be a Maine thing.

@Gil I.P. - I hope my sons remember something about me as fondly as you remember your dad's white bread secret. Thanks for sharing.

Looks like 66688 might take the pot?

Solving in Seattle 3:44 PM  

I knew we were in for a fun wedpuz with 1D in the French past tense.

"Much binary code." So what would be the clue for the other answer? The other much binary code? Some binary code? Beetle Baily character's "code" name? Binary code fffor rrreally cccccold? The OCTANE need for a TESLA? (Some irony in that crossing.)

two pair loses to... well, everybody.

Dirigonzo 9:26 PM  

@SiS - I just can't let your comment go unacknowledged. "French past tense" took a minute but your suggestions for ZERO are classic! (I want some of whatever you're having.)

I do believe the pot is still mine.

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