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RISE AND FALL

New York Times, Sunday, May 22, 2016

Author:
Victor Barocas and Andy Kravis
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
102/9/20111/21/20186
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62022
Victor Barocas
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1211/3/201310/9/20188
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3122112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64040
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
62. "Now We Are Six" author : MILNE
63. Love, in the Louvre : AMOUR
64. Pond wrigglers : NEWTS
67. Establishes : INSTATES
71. 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: 13 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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