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RISE AND FALL

New York Times, Sunday, May 22, 2016

Author:
Victor Barocas and Andy Kravis
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
132/9/201110/6/20198
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
7012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62032
Victor Barocas
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/3/201310/11/201911
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4123223
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64050
Andy Kravis

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 80 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Barocas. This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Kravis. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
VICTOR: I think that the best puzzles I construct, and I think that 'Rise and Fall' is one of them, are those in which the idea has a moment when it seems impossible to execute in a ... read more

VICTOR:

I think that the best puzzles I construct, and I think that "Rise and Fall" is one of them, are those in which the idea has a moment when it seems impossible to execute in a publishable puzzle. Triple-checked letters pose a particular challenge because they constrain the fill but do not reduce the number of words in the puzzle, so meeting the NYT's guidelines gets difficult quickly. In the case of "Rise and Fall," fitting the black squares around the mountains and valleys was tough, and then the sharp corners were messy, but it looked fillable when I started out with it (in mid-2014!). Of course, months of false starts later, I was still unsuccessful, so I asked Andy to co-construct it with me.

I like Andy a lot, he's a terrific filler and collaborator, and he seems to think a bit differently from me, which makes us able to find solutions together that we (at least I) might not find alone. The first thing he did was suggest adding MOUNTAINHIGHVALLEYLOW across the middle, which was a great addition to the puzzle — and which is a rather strange song (and not the one by Tina Turner that I suspect most people think of when they see it).

We went back and forth on a few iterations and finally managed to get something we liked with 144 words. Close enough, right? Wrong. Will sent it back for being too wordy, so we hacked at it for another couple of months and got it down to a 140-worder. I hope that people liked the puzzle. (P.S. I started with KILIMANJARO instead of SAINTHELENS, but that proved impossible. Such is life!)

ANDY:

I don't much to add, except that I always enjoy working with Victor. His theme ideas are always unique, which makes the process of constructing the puzzle much more fun.

Jeff Chen notes:
This reminded me of one of my favorite visual puzzles from a few years ago. Fun to see three mountains and three valleys today. You might not have noticed that they're symmetrically ... read more

This reminded me of one of my favorite visual puzzles from a few years ago. Fun to see three mountains and three valleys today. You might not have noticed that they're symmetrically located — I thought that was pretty neat, and it makes the construction task even tougher.

Ain't no mountain high enough ... wait. Dang it!

Victor mentions "triple-checked letters" — that means that some letters in the grid must work with not just the normal across and down answers, but diagonal ones as well. It's very hard to cleanly work a single diagonal answer into a grid, so to have so much diagonality today makes it an incredibly, incredibly tough construction.

Impressive result, given the difficulty factor — they generally avoided the worst types of crossword glue, just little bits of OCA, HWY, ANAS, RCPT, ECTO material. Only MEOWERS made me cringe, and the KARSTS / ARNO crossing was the only place I felt was potentially unfair.

At first, I was annoyed that my confident filling in of PYTHAGORAS turned out to be a guy I wasn't familiar with, PROTAGORAS, but reading up on him turned out to be fun. His quote, "Man is the measure of all things," is pretty deep. I like having him tucked away in my mental arsenal now.

Some nice 7-letter material too: SIR DUKE Ellington, DOE EYES, DON IMUS, NAME ONE! Not a ton of killer fill in total, but the minimal amount of gluey material was a huge construction feat. To execute this concept in 144 words would be difficult. Cutting out four more words to get down to Will's maximum means eliminating a few precious black squares that could help to separate the diagonal answers.

MOUNTAIN HIGH VALLEY LOW is a perfect revealer for the puzzle theme. But it's a real shame it's not the "ain't no mountain high enough …" song.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0522 ( 24,302 )
Across
1
"Hooked on Classics" record promoter : KTEL
5
Japanese electronics giant : EPSON
10
Swell locale? : SEA
13
Director Apatow : JUDD
17
View from the Uffizi Gallery : ARNO
18
Polo in the 13th century : MARCO
19
Unyielding : FIRM
20
Annual event at Pebble Beach : PROAM
22
Like a well-off señora : RICA
23
Greek philosopher who wrote "Man is the measure of all things" : PROTAGORAS
25
Tomato trouble : EDEMA
26
Harrison ___, last person to set foot on the moon : SCHMITT
28
Round of applause : HAND
29
One on a talk show couch, say : TVGUEST
31
Argentine aunt : TIA
32
Like some brownies and towelettes : MOIST
35
Brings out : EDUCES
37
Still : YET
38
Country named for one of its patrons : SANMARINO
40
Basic material : ALKALI
41
___ Day (November 19, in Brazil) : PELE
42
Identify, as in a Facebook photo : TAG
43
It's never free of charge : ION
44
Coin issued in values of 1 to 500 : YEN
45
Tongue, anatomically : GLOSSA
47
Largest labor union in the U.S. : NEA
49
Does a certain dog trick : BEGS
52
Some iPods : NANOS
54
"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" instrument : CELESTA
58
Howard Stern rival : DONIMUS
61
"Jeez!" : OHMAN
65
"L'___ del Cairo" (unfinished Mozart opera) : OCA
66
Prefix with lingual : TRI
68
With full attention : RAPTLY
69
Gooey stuff : SLIME
70
Classic song with the repeated line "If you need me, I will be nearby" ... shown symbolically in this puzzle : MOUNTAINHIGHVALLEYLOW
75
Ewoks' home in sci-fi : ENDOR
76
Upstate SUNY campus site : OSWEGO
77
Regret : RUE
78
Filbert, for one : NUT
79
Woman's floral nickname : ROSIE
80
Common plastic base : STYRENE
82
Vocal cats : MEOWERS
85
Part of Polynesia : SAMOA
87
It's least palatable when raw : DEAL
89
Little, twisted part of us all? : DNA
90
Egg, for one : GAMETE
93
Bygone cable inits. : TNN
96
Main ingredient in a Tom Collins : GIN
98
Wenders who directed "Buena Vista Social Club" : WIM
100
Santa ___ (some winds) : ANAS
101
Close with a knot : TIEOFF
104
Good thing to get from Moody's : AAARATING
108
Disaster area, so to speak : STY
109
Marked down : ONSALE
110
Six-time All-Star Garciaparra : NOMAR
111
Prefix for a revived style : NEO
112
French mime : PIERROT
115
Go off course : VEER
117
Use as a conclusion : ENDWITH
119
Insurance giant : AFLAC
120
Find out about : HEARTELLOF
124
Prefix with -plasm : ECTO
125
Subject of an annual festival in Holland, Mich. : TULIP
126
French buds : AMIS
127
Instrument at Rick's Café : PIANO
128
With 132-Across, place to get a date : PALM
129
Spew fire and brimstone, say : RANT
130
Dusk-___-dawn : TIL
131
Animal sought in 2016's "Zootopia" : OTTER
132
See 128-Across : TREE
Down
1
Limestone areas with sinkholes and caverns : KARSTS
2
One of the Nixons : TRICIA
3
Captivate : ENCHANT
4
Rich soil : LOAM
5
Caveat ___ : EMPTOR
6
Final installment of "The Hangover" : PARTIII
7
Sign of theatrical success : SRO
8
Fall mo. : OCT
9
Title biblical character played by Russell Crowe : NOAH
10
Hit from "Songs in the Key of Life" dedicated to Ellington : SIRDUKE
11
End of an ___ : ERA
12
Dutch beer brand : AMSTEL
13
Compressed file format : JPEG
14
Language that gave us "cummerbund" : URDU
15
They impart an innocent look : DOEEYES
16
Maidens : DAMSELS
19
How good times are remembered : FONDLY
21
Country singer Kathy with the #1 "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" : MATTEA
24
Mother and wife of Uranus : GAEA
27
Google heading : IMAGES
30
Churchill gesture : VSIGN
33
Supercilious sort : SNOB
34
Muscular : TONED
36
Shaped like a tube : CANNULAR
39
Long, flowing locks : MANE
41
In a luxurious manner : POSHLY
46
Untethered : LOOSE
48
Lead-in to boy : ATTA
50
More bloody : GORIER
51
Caught : SNAGGED
53
Refugee's request : ASYLUM
54
Rising star : COMER
55
Money-saving brand prefix : ECONO
56
Extols : LAUDS
57
Melodic passage : ARIOSO
59
Galaxy rival : IPHONE
60
"True Life" airer : MTV
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"Now We Are Six" author : MILNE
63
Love, in the Louvre : AMOUR
64
Pond wrigglers : NEWTS
67
Establishes : INSTATES
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They may keep you awake at night : NOISES
72
Reward for Fido : TREAT
73
It may take a toll: Abbr. : HWY
74
Certification for eco-friendly buildings, for short : LEED
81
Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb : EAGAN
83
Direction of progress : ONWARD
84
"Hold it!" : WAIT
86
"Same here" : METOO
88
Chinese dynasty of 1,000 years ago : LIAO
90
React to, as a shock : GASPAT
91
Like PETA : ANTIFUR
92
Bob Ewell's daughter in "To Kill a Mockingbird" : MAYELLA
94
Uselessly, after "to" : NOAVAIL
95
Texans, e.g. : NFLERS
97
"Oh yeah? Give an example!" : NAMEONE
99
Subcompact : MINICAR
102
Because : INTHAT
103
A limerick has 13 : FEET
105
Sought, as office : RANFOR
106
Irk : NETTLE
107
Order to a pest : GOHOME
113
It can come in sheets : RAIN
114
A.T.M. printout: Abbr. : RCPT
116
Certain tow job, for short : REPO
118
Shed tears : WEPT
121
Bygone record label : EMI
122
Sauced : LIT
123
Back muscle, briefly : LAT

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?