by Brian Schoner
Problem:

Solvers are presented with two sets of images. At the top, there are ten sets of concentric circles—the tree rings mentioned in the flavor text. Below that are ten photographs of people, places, and things that don’t seem to have much (if anything) in common with trees or with each other.

Some images may be obvious, but most will need some Google image searching or similar. The first realization is that each image represents something that is named after (or at least, named the same as) a mythological hybrid—there’s a picture of a CENTAUR rocket booster and a WEREWOLF game card, for instance—clued in the flavortext by the “hybrid trees” reference.

Solvers should then turn their attention to the concentric circles. Each set of rings represents a group of letters—the smaller the ring, the earlier the letter comes in the alphabet.

Identifying these rings should start with the letter A, as there is one in every ring set. The actual ring-to-letter conversion is based on standard UK ring sizes. The size reference given in the image shows that the largest circle in the last image has an inner diameter of 20.76mm, which is a UK ring size of W. From there, solvers should be able to identify the other ring sizes and their corresponding letters. The radii of the rings in each image correspond exactly to the actual ring sizes in millimeters—the identified W ring with an actual diameter of 20.76mm has a radius of 10.380 units in the SVG display.

Solvers may be momentarily nonplussed that the tree ring lettersets don’t match any of the mythological creatures they have found. They should soon notice that those letters form the names of the creatures that combine to form the hybrid creatures, plus one extra letter in each set of rings. With that final step, simply taking the extra letters in the order of the photographs will return the answer SENIOR BOWL.

Image #HybridPictureComponentsRing PictureExtra Letter
1GARUDAGaruda from Street Fighter EXBIRD + MAN4S
2HARPYHarpy UAV (drone missile)BIRD + WOMAN2E
3CAPRICORNZodiac constellationFISH + GOAT8N
4WEREWOLFCard from Werewolf gameMAN + WOLF10I
5ANANSIAnansi (Mr. Nancy) from American GodsMAN + SPIDER6O
6MERMAIDMermaid Quay, CardiffFISH + WOMAN9R
7PENGHOUPenghou yulongshan beetleDOG + MAN3B
8QUETZALCOATLQuetzalcoatl from Legend QuestBIRD + SNAKE1O
9CENTAURCentaur rocket boosterHORSE + MAN7W
10JOROGUMONephila clavata spider (or “Jorogumo spider”)SPIDER + WOMAN5L

The sets of rings are arranged alphabetically by the lettersets they consist of. The fact that MAN + WOLF + I alphabetizes to “A FILM NOW” is an entertaining but otherwise meaningless coincidence.