Bob Ewell's daughter in To Kill Mockingbird / SUN 5-22-16 / Tongue anatomically / Dance of Sugar Plum Fairy instrument / Limestone areas with sinkholes caverns

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Constructor: Victor Barocas and Andy Kravis

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Rise And Fall" — Circles form inverted "V"s in top half of grid—these hold the names of mountains; circles form "V"s in bottom half of grid—these hold the names of valleys. Two halves of the grid united thematically by central revealer: 70A: Classic song with the repeated line "if you need me, I will be nearby" ... shown symbolically in this puzzle ("MOUNTAIN HIGH, VALLEY LOW")

Theme answers:
  • SILICON Valley, SAN FERNANDO Valley, DEATH Valley 
Word of the Day: PIERROT (112A: French mime) —
Pierrot (French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁo]) is a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell'Arte whose origins are in the late seventeenth-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris and known as the Comédie-Italienne; the name is a hypocorism of Pierre (Peter), via the suffix -ot. His character in contemporary popular culture—in poetry, fiction, the visual arts, as well as works for the stage, screen, and concert hall—is that of the sad clown, pining for love of Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Performing unmasked, with a whitened face, he wears a loose white blouse with large buttons and wide white pantaloons. Sometimes he appears with a frilled collaret and a hat, usually with a close-fitting crown and wide round brim, more rarely with a conical shape like a dunce's cap. But most frequently, since his reincarnation under Jean-Gaspard Deburau, he wears neither collar nor hat, only a black skullcap. The defining characteristic of Pierrot is his naïveté: he is seen as a fool, often the butt of pranks, yet nonetheless trusting. (wikipedia)
• • •

The execution here is interesting, with the mountains and valleys ending up in perfect rotational symmetry. I would not have considered this a requirement for this type of puzzle, but it's a nice little touch. I've seen themes where circled squares both form and spell out geographical features before (I feel like a very good early-week puzzle did this once), but the scale and precision of the theme expression here make this one quite different. My only criticism here is with the revealer, which purports to be a "Classic" song. It ... isn't. Or else "Classic" means something I don't understand. If you google the lyric in the clue (in quotation marks) you get lyrics for an Eartha Kitt song from the early '50s. You also get a ton of hits for SEO (search engine optimization) crossword sites (designed to lure google cheaters), which have already uploaded all the clues to *this* very puzzle. You also get some random junk. I've never heard this song. I *have* heard some very famous songs that sound Kind of like "MOUNTAIN HIGH, VALLEY LOW," such as "River Deep, Mountain High" (by Ike & Tina Turner) and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (which contains the lyric "Ain't no mountain high, ain't no valley low..."). Both those songs are light years more famous than today's song. Seriously, did *anyone* but Eartha Kitt sing it. When I put the title into YouTube, it understandably wants to give me the two songs I've already mentioned. Not ... this:

It's a real song, so I can accept it as the revealer. But "Classic" is a s t r e t c h.

Proper noun clusters seem like they could've gotten some people into trouble today. I was lucky enough to know (somehow?) PIERROT, 'cause I sure as heckfire didn't know that "To Kill a Mockingbird" cross (MAYELLA) (!?) (92D: Bob Ewell's daughter in "To Kill a Mockingbird"). And thank god I got the wordplay in the clue at 87A: It's least palatable when raw (DEAL), because I had No Clue about the "A" or the "L" cross. EAGAN??? (81D: Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb) LIAO??? (88D: Chinese dynasty of 1,000 years ago) Yipes. That's playing fast and loose with marginal proper nouns. Dangerous. But not too dangerous—not for me, anyway. CELESTA over OCA also gave me some trepidation. The former I couldn't pick out of a line-up 54A: "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" instrument), the latter I know only as a South American tuber, which I assume is not the meaning here (65A: "L'___ del Cairo" (unfinished Mozart opera)). But educated guesses and solid crosses made things work out in the end. No idea who SCHMITT was. Or PROTAGORAS (23A: Greek philosopher who wrote "Man is the measure of all things"). Lucky enough to have OSWEGO in my backyard (broadly speaking) (76A: Upstate SUNY campus site)—that is a name that likely baffled a few of you. But somehow I managed to gambol through this proper noun minefield without any significant damage. All in all, a fine, entertaining, solid Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

Wow, Rex. For an easy puzzle, this one had an awful lot of familiar stuff you somehow missed encountering in your life.

Chaos344 8:15 AM  

You didn't look hard enough Rex! This is indeed a classic Diana Ross hit.

Rex Parker 8:20 AM  


Lobster11 8:31 AM  

Yet again, an otherwise perfectly good puzzle was ruined for me by a clusterf@$& of obscure proper nouns. Did not finish and did not care.

chefbea 8:39 AM  

No fun for me. Couldn't figure out all the mountains and valleys. Busy day ahead

Chaos344 8:44 AM  

O.K. all you cruciverbalists, all together now, "EAGAN? IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE EDINA!" Well, we already have EDEMA, and that's too close to EDINA, so EAGAN was diabolically clever when crossed with NOMAR. Non baseball fans will be screaming, "NOFAIR, NOMORE NOMAR"!

Great puzzle, nice theme, mostly fair crosses. Not much to bitch about here, but the blog is just waking. Today,the big flap is probably going to be weather the Diana Ross hit rises to the level of "classic"? I'm too lazy to search for the number of records it sold. "LETS GET READY TO RUUUUMBLE!"

seanm 8:45 AM  

my fastest Sunday ever, though "finishing" with a blank square at 1a/1d. never heard of either KTEL or KARSTS before. also had difficulty figuring out MATTEA from the crosses. the 112a/92d were both pretty obscure but only E looks French there so it was guessable.

but overall I thought the fill was mostly clean especially given the selfimposed constraints of the theme

Dolgo 8:56 AM  

Well, some of these clues are pretty obscure, but that's what I like because it challenges me. I guess I'm guilty of some sort of overweening pride or something, 'cause knowing obscure facts is something I'm proud of. So when a crossword has a lot of them, I have a pretty good time. So I had a good time today! Naturally, many of my friends find me an insufferable pedant, so i often have to soft-pedal that side of myself in public. That makes crosswords a secret pleasure. I know a lot of the rest of you feel the same way, because many of the contributors to Rex's blog here brag about how they knew the answers to the hard clues on the hard days. I must admi that I consider that a bit unseemly. Worse yet, though, in my estimation, is whining because the clues are too obscure. Jeez! Isn't this why we like to do these things? I must admit that I think one of the defects of the American character is that we are do unwilling to learn new things. There. I've said it. I'll get down off my soapbox now.

charlesr55 8:58 AM  

I thought this was super easy! I got the song in the first ten minutes and then everything seemed to flow into place.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

I know NOMAR from "classic" SNL sketches featuring Sully and Denise.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Thought it was very clever and because I could do most of it, it was fun. The names of the mountains and valleys filled in easily with just a few letters present, same with the song name. There were a few things I never heard of, but other crosses and good guesses got most of them. I must say I put EDINA in with 100% certainty until the clue about Nomar Garciaparra was read. As a Sox fan, that was a total gimme, so Edina was for sure wrong.

Aketi 9:19 AM  

The six years I lived in upstate New York did not help me in the least to figure out which of the locations out of the 64-institution SUNY system was the correct response to 76 across, The obvious choice of ALBANY was wiped out early by the E in GORIER as was the too short UTICA that M&E might have preferred, That E gave me brief hope that there was a GENESE in addition to GENESEE and GENESEO. I knew ELMIRA was not ELMERA. Some of the O locations like ONEONTA and ONEIDA looked promising with a little rearrangement of vowels or a discarding of a letter. The O in IPHONE, however, nixed all the small towns ending in A. Then the shapes if the valleys reminded me that when I get stuck it's often because I forget that W is a letter. So I finally arrived at OSWEGO,

Kind of fitting that A SUNY school crossed INSTATES,

The valleys were confined to my birth state of California, while the mountains spanned three continents,

Nancy 9:22 AM  

The annoying little circles provided...annoyance, rather than enlightenment. I didn't figure out the theme, didn't care about the theme, found the puzzle a boring slog. Kept wondering how soon it would be over. Plus the fact I naticked at two points: the KTEL/KARSTS crossing and the EAGAN/NOMAR crossing. Some writeovers that caused problems: INSTALLS before INSTATES at 67D; WHOA before WAIT at 84D; WEEP before WEPT at 118D. After many unusually great Sundays, this one did absolutely nothing for me. But then, as all of you know by now, I hate annoying little circles.

Mohair Sam 9:28 AM  

Yes indeed, it was a fun Sunday. I'm betting we are among the many who said aloud: "I didn't know that as the song's title, and I don't remember that lyric." - and we were right. But it worked anyhow. We zipped through it quickly only to discover we had a personal natick at the "G" in GAEA. We only go three deep on Greek philosophers, and PROTAGORAS doesn't make the list. Lots of tough PPP in this one, we feel fortunate to have swung and missed only once.

@Rex - Can't imagine what you pay your lawn service.

George Barany 9:38 AM  

Full disclosure: @Victor Barocas is a friend and colleague at the University of Minnesota, and @Andy Kravis is a popular member of the crossword community who has his own crossword site. The puzzle's overall theme was easy enough to suss out, and all those triple-checked letters, while posing real construction challenges that account for the difficult proper nouns which ever-so-often crossed, generally helped the solver. Overall, very nice (and kudos to @Rex for his generous review).

I loved the little EAGAN (vs. EDINA) trap already commented on (a little valentine to where we live), and the delightfully science-based clues for ION and DNA (befitting our day jobs). The diabolical clue for DEAL could well have worked for DATA as well, and the philosopher at 23-Across could just as well have been PYTHAGORAS of a2 + b2 = c2 fame, with many shared letters.

Please allow me to give another plug for the upcoming Minnesota Crossword Tournament, which will be held on Sunday, June 12 (just three weeks from now!). I have hyperlinked to general information, but you can also click here for direct registration. Today's co-constructor, @Victor Barocas, will be writing the finals puzzle (with three sets of clues), and also coordinating the efforts of all of the other constructors (@C.C. Burnikel, @David Liben-Nowell, @Tom Pepper, and myself included). We hope that many of you can join us!

jberg 9:42 AM  

@chaos, that link to a Diana Ross song points to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a different song.

Once again I forgot to check at the end to see if I had everything -- so I failed to see that I'd left DE_ _ at 87A. I'm kicking myself, as I would have guessed the A in EAGAN, and pretty sure I would have guessed LIAO over XIAO once i had that. Needless DNF.

TOugh before TONED, COMEt before COMER, still having trouble imagining that that's a CELESTA in "Sugar Plum Fairy."

What I didn't like: the mountains are all over the world, but the valleys are all in California.

What I liked: being reminded of one of my favorite paintings, "Pierrot Tired," by Guy Pene du Bois.

oconomowoc 9:58 AM  

I wonder if PROTAGORAS and Antagoras would've gotten along if they had lived in the same century.

JD 10:00 AM  

Poshly? As in say, 'My, how poshly you've decorated this loo." Begs as a dog trick? The trick part is sit up. It's no trick to get a dog to beg. Sty clues as a disaster area? A ton of dumb clues for unrewarding answers. Bleh

Teedmn 10:04 AM  

Hah, like @Chaos344 and @Anon9:03, I *knew* Edina was the Mpls-St Paul suburb because it always is. I finally had to use San Fernando to jump-start my brain to see it was EAGAN, a southeastern suburb of St. Paul rather than the upscale western Mpls suburb of Edina. The G of GIN should have made it obvious but... My excuse is that I have been camping in the BWCA, far from any city, so the suburbs were not in my mind.

Being off the grid meant that I solved Thursday's and Friday's puzzles on my iPad touch screen on a bumpy road with plenty of beautiful Lake Superior scenery to interfere with my solving times. So I was glad to find my 44 minute Thursday time was not incredibly out of the ballpark. I kind of liked the quip puzzle - crypto quip puzzles used to be my forte and it sort of worked the same way and helped with the crosses. All the hate poured on that puzzle made me giggle except for it being the poor constructor's debut.

Today's puzzle was a neat idea, well constructed, though the cluing was mostly straightforward so not as "cute" as I usually expect Sunday to be. But thanks, VB and AK!

Z 10:05 AM  

@Chaos344 - LOL. Did you figure out the significance of @Rex8:20's "Um..." yet? It's almost as if you elided past the end of Rex's first paragraph.

GLOSSA/MATTEA anyone? I always hate playing whack-a-vowel at the end of an otherwise pleasant puzzle.

One other nit, and it really is a very small nit, the mountains range all over the planet while it seems only California has valleys.

TULIP, besides being the source of May Madness in my original hometown, is also a handy little Calvinistic mnemonic. Always good to have a little religion with your Sunday puzzle I say.

Dr. Fairchild 10:23 AM  

1 across and 1 down were deadly for me. The theme was really obvious and sleuthing out the mountain and valley names helped to get some of the trickier clues. (I am oddly irked that all of the valleys are in CA, aren't there valleys anywhere else in the world?).

I was also stuck with DE-- for 87 across and no idea about the downs. When the answer hit me, I felt quite proud.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Wow, I really thought @Rex would come down hard on this Sunday puzzle. There are at least a dozen partials (I stopped counting) and he normally doesn't like those. But Sunday can get a pass for that.

Another reason I thought he wouldn't like it is because the clues and answers seem to be from 30 years ago, for the most part. I guess that explains why it was right in my wheelhouse. I wrote in my first thought every time and was right every time except for 54D (Rising star) where I put in CELEB instead of COMER. Quickly fixed.

As to the theme--meh. I guess it was cute and well-executed, but after getting the revealer I didn't even bother with the circled squares until I was done. "Oh, yeah, those are mountains and valleys," said myself to me.

@Dolgo -- I agree it's unseemly to brag about just knowing obscure facts, but wow, I Just Knew Them today! ;-)


Gerald Harris 10:28 AM  

Come on. When you cross Ktel and karst, mattea and glossa and patagoras and Gaea, there is no way you can reasonably term this puzzle easy-medium.

ES 10:35 AM  

Overall I liked this week's puzzle, I thought there was a good balance of obvious and obscure clues. Finished in 35 minutes, so it was breezier than some Sunday enjoyable exercise!

Still jaundiced 10:36 AM  

Thanks for the link to Eartha Kitt. I was intrigued by the oddly deliberate Orientalist nature of the orchestration and lyrics (complete with closing gong). Turns out "Mountain High, Valley Low" was the opening song in a now-forgotten 1946 Broadway musical, "Lute Song," which Wikipedia cites as being notable for two things: the introduction of Yul Brynner to Mary Martin, and the only Broadway appearance of Nancy Reagan.

I was also scratching my head over the "Chinese dynasty" clue -- while the Liao dynasty at its height geographically encompassed parts of modern-day northern China, it was never part of the line of Chinese dynasties. Rather, the Liao dynasty struck a treaty with its contemporaneous actual Chinese dynasty, the Song. (Which, for the record, does not rhyme with "wrong". The vowel sounds more like that in "book" or "wood".) Sloppy.

On a lighter note, folks in the Twin Cities area joke that "Edina" is actually an acronym for "Every day, I need attention." Sorry, kids, no cake for you today...

Wm. C. 10:40 AM  

@Anon8:59 --

You know NOMAR from SNL, but doy know the name's etymology?

Norm 10:43 AM  

I liked the mountains and valleys, but the gross number of obscure crosses made this puzzle a complete flop. It never should have seen the light of day in its present form.

Lewis 10:45 AM  

Finding famous mountains and valleys of equal letter length was impressive. I wanted CELESTe rather than CELESTA. The puzzle felt a bit easier than the typical Sunday, and it never felt like a slog because it felt like there were more gimmes than usual. While the puzzle has equal mountains and valleys, the highs easily outweighed the lows for me on this one.

By the way, do you see that Boggle-style ETNA in the NW corner?

Unknown 10:52 AM  

@seanm, the K at 1a/1d was an unknown for me as well. I hate it when I get hung up on the very first entry.

Also got tripped up in the EAGAN/LIAO/DEAL area. Otherwise, it was an easy puzzle for me.

As @Rex points out, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross is not the same song as "Mountain High, Valley Low." Don't know the song at all, but as is often the case it was easy enough to suss given the theme.

jae 11:02 AM  

Medium-tough for me even though I knew the song. Seems like there were a fair number of Naticky crosses...KARSTS/SCHMITT (one of the funniest characters on New Girl), MATTEA/GLOSSA, CELESTA/ARIOSO, EAGAN (I wanted Edina)/NOMAR, PIERROT/MAYELLA...

Clever but some of the fill paid the price. Liked it.

I know this isn't the song, but it's the one I always confuse it with and Darlene Love's version is just terrific!

River Deep Mountain High

JayWalker 11:04 AM  

Thanks to "Still Jaundiced" for the "LUTE SONG" clarification. I too knew it was from a musical but couldn't identify it for the life of me. I think "LUTE SONG" goes back to the late 40s, early 50s, so I don't feel bad about not remembering, but it was driving me a bit batty. Otherwise, I had the exact same headaches that Rex did this morning. The last two letters to go into the puzzle were the "a" and the "l" in deal. (And THAT was a real AHA!! moment.) But without that I would never have gotten LIAO nor EAGAN and for the exact same reasons claimed by many above. But a good, if frustrating, workout for a Sunday.

PIX 11:10 AM  

45A: Tongue, anatomically: glossa. Actually in human anatomy it's usually glosso.

Nik 11:10 AM  

@Wm. C. NOMAR = Ramon backwards (parental license)

Chim cham 11:18 AM  

From yesterday's puzzle: is ROLF ("Massage deeply") crosswordese? Or was it in the past? I'd never heard the term in life or encountered it in a puzzle; I've been a near daily solver for seven years. Just curious.

old timer 11:23 AM  

I found the puzzle full of WOE and not pleasant at all to solve. DNF rather than put in STY (I had gawp at, though of course GASP AT could be right). And Naticked at the EAGAN/NOMAR cross. I settled for "Eagal" and "Nomar".

Funny thing is, I knew the song. Or at least remembered a chorus that went, "Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough." I just assumed MOUNTAIN HIGH VALLEY LOW was the title. MATTEA was easy, though -- she was my daughters' favorite singer after they outgrew the detestable Raffi.

Anonymous 11:25 AM
Mountain high, valley low by John Anderson

George Barany 11:30 AM  

Full disclosure: @Victor Barocas is a friend and colleague at the University of Minnesota, and @Andy Kravis is a popular member of the crossword community who has his own crossword site. The puzzle's overall theme was easy enough to suss out, and all those triple-checked letters, while posing real construction challenges that account for the difficult proper nouns which ever-so-often crossed, generally helped the solver. Overall, very nice (and kudos to @Rex for his generous review).

I loved the little EAGAN (vs. EDINA) trap already commented on (a little valentine to where we live), and the delightfully science-based clues for ION and DNA (befitting our day jobs). The diabolical clue for DEAL could well have worked for DATA as well, and the philosopher at 23-Across could just as well have been PYTHAGORAS of a2 + b2 = c2 fame, with many shared letters.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

@Wm. C - that's Wm. short for Wehttam?

George Barany 11:31 AM  

Continuing, please allow me to give another plug for the upcoming Minnesota Crossword Tournament, which will be held on Sunday, June 12 (just three weeks from now!). I have hyperlinked to general information, but you can also click here for direct registration. Today's co-constructor, @Victor Barocas, will be writing the finals puzzle (with three sets of clues), and also coordinating the efforts of all of the other constructors (@C.C. Burnikel, @David Liben-Nowell, @Tom Pepper, and myself included). We hope that many of you can join us!

Joseph Michael 11:36 AM  

Thought this was unusually easy for a Sunday puzzle. Got the theme early on with the mountain names. Didn't think I would know any valley names, but then they fell into place even more easily. Got both SILICON and DEATH just from seeing the number of circles.

So. Mountains. And valleys. I guess it's impressive that they appear as parallels, but...mountains and valleys? That's it?

Wm. C. 11:38 AM  

Aw-www, @Nik11:10, you gave it away. I was waiting for @anon8:59.


Hugh G. Wreckshin 11:40 AM  

@Evan...gee, thanks for helping me with yesterday's puzzle in today's discussion.

Alby 11:51 AM  

Had wTc ("Disaster area, so to speak") crossing GAwPAT for the longest time. Still too soon?

Aketi 11:56 AM  

Just noticed a HAND up at the top of a mountain and a PALM down at the bottom of a valley,

ENDWITH is double crossed by the valley of DEATH

I would not have expected to find expect to find a TULIP at the bottom of SILICON valley.

@rex The MEOWERS in our family were not amused when I downloaded an app onto my iPaf that had dozens of different kitten meows a while back. They were not pleased with your selection of cat's meowing at birds either,

RAD2626 12:10 PM  

I thought this was a very nice Sunday puzzle although I had to guess at a half dozen letters, e.g., the R in KARST/RICO, the A in GLOSSA/MATTEA , which were pretty logical but kicked it on AN A RATING/LInO. Obviously the former would be okay but should have figured if LINO was the answer (not very Chinese sounding) the clue would have been "Start to type". Sloppy logic on my part. That said, liked the theme, liked the symmetry of it, knew the song title, however obscure, and enjoyed the puzzle thoroughly.

Nancy 12:13 PM  

@Mohair (9:26) -- Found your Greek philosophers comment a howl. PROTAGORAS doesn't make my list either. Also liked @oconomowoc's 9:58 ANTAGORAS comment a lot. But if you're truly honest with yourself, I think you'll admit that oconomowoc is a much, MUCH stranger name than either PROTAGORAS or ANTAGORAS.

@Teedmn (10:04)-- So you're off camping in the BWCA. Do you have any gadgets with you that can get you to the You Tube video "Jews Don't Camp Song"? (It's the version with the photo of multi-colored berries). I mentioned it a few days ago in connection with the HOT WATER clue for "camping amenity" -- an amenity which, btw, I hope you have wherever you are. As for me, I'm off to Google to find out what and where the BWCA is.

Unknown 12:29 PM  

It took me a while to figure out the theme, but the fill was so easy that ultimate success was assured. And I'm not nearly the whiz at these things that so many of you appear to be. I'm surprised at so much negative feedback. Nomar? Seriously? Isn't that Crossword 101 by now? I mean, I learned words like ECRU and ETUI many years ago that have nothing to do with my personal lifestyle. This puzzle was a breeze.

Chaos344 12:50 PM  

@jberg & Z: Mea Culpa, and with apologies to Rex. A classic case of letting my alligator mouth overload my hummingbird asshole. That's what happens when I start the puzzle two hours earlier than usual, and with a wee bit of a hangover to boot! I'm blaming it all on Johnnie Walker Black! :>)

@Dolgo: Well said!

@Aketi: LMAO! I feel you pain. I live in New York, but spent ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area. It took you longer to get to OSWEGO via the puzzle, than if you had driven there from California.

BTW, excellent late post yesterday, vis-a-vis the rebuttal to a certain few. I was tempted to jump into that swamp with both feet, but figured it was time for someone else to take a turn. You framed it much more eloquently and politely than I would have. I hold no truck with those who promote trigger warnings, safe spaces or the concept of micro-aggression etc; and as I have said before, this is not the correct forum to interject personal ideology. That's what Real Clear Politics.Com is for.

Edgar Winter 12:52 PM  

"The mountain is high the valley is low
And you're confused on which way to go"

Joe Dipinto 1:04 PM  

Jazz singer Helen Merrill also recorded "Mountain High Valley Low":

Hers is the only version I ever heard -- I was unfamiliar with Eartha Kitt having done it. While I love the song, I agree it can hardly be considered a "classic" if it was recorded roughly twice in total, on relatively obscure albums.

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@indie009: Nothing charted in the 1955-1986 music era with that MOUNTAINHIGHVALLEYLOW title, anyhoo. Plus, Eartha Kitt and Diana Ross never charted with a song called that. "Classic" is a pretty flexible term, tho... I recall in "Sixteen Candles", after the little brat-brother was informed that the fam had forgotten Samantha's b-day yesterday, his reply was, "Classic!"

Thanx for the friendly Sunday workout, VB-AK. fave entry set: PALM+TREE stack in the valley of DEATH.

Masked & Anonymo8Us

yo, @indie009: quad stacks …

kitshef 2:12 PM  

Insanely easy, except in the spots where it was very difficult. Had to triple-check all the crosses before I could accept WIM, MATTEA or LIAO. But all the crosses were reasonable.

My big objection is the crossing of CELESTA/ARIOSO. Crossing obscure words from different subject areas is iffy. Crossing obscure words from the exact same subject area is unacceptable.

A neat theme undone by too much dreck: TVGUUST, MEOWERS, PARTIII, GASPAT, NFLERS, NAMEONE, GOHOME for starters.

My father testified before Harrison SCHMITT when he (SCHMITT) was a senator in the late '70s. He was a decent Senator and forward-thinker, until he went wacko about ten years ago.

Ray - O - Sunshine 2:17 PM  

Not too difficult to complete but had no idea what the theme intended except for the across song title. Nor what the circled letters were supposed to spell out.

gpo 2:30 PM  

This one rolled right out for me, easy-medium is just about right, and fun too.

I have to confess to one bout with dumbassery: chronically tense-dense, I put in WEep instead of WEPT, and then actually spent a couple of minutes wondering "What in the hell is an "eALM pREE"? Then came the headslap and I was done.

gpo 2:33 PM  

P.S. Dear Anonymous at 8:59 (re: "NOMAR")

That would actually be an awesome way to clue "NOMAH," i.e., "Favorite shortstop of Sully and Denise."

Unknown 2:36 PM  

I discovered that my brain files Mounts SINAI, SAINT_HELENS, and EVEREST under different headings. SINAI is under "cultural: Bible," SAINT_HELENS under "natural disasters," and EVEREST under "geographic records." EVEREST is the only one that I think of in terms of height. SAINT_HELENS is only the 52nd tallest mountain in Washington State, and both it and SINAI are under 10,000 feet tall.

The set of valleys is also strange. They're all from California. DEATH Valley is the only one that I think of in terms of its low-ness. SILICON Valley strikes me as different from all the other answers.

I'm not quite sure what to make of all this. They are all well-known mountains and valleys, so they are fair, but something about these answers sets feels off to me. I guess, now that I think of it, it has more to do with the revealer, which defines the mountains as high and valleys as low (which they, of course are). My brain wants to re-arrange this as high mountains and low valleys.

Gah. I'm overthinking this.

P.S. "SILICON Valley" is a smart and hilarious HBO show. IMO, it's one of the best shows on tv.

Phil 3:38 PM  

Who was prlemis something or other. Anyway, got thru all but two crossings, karst ktel amd mattea glossa

tkincher 3:40 PM  

MAYELLA was actually my foothold into the SW corner. I was in a stage production of "Mockingbird" as a kid, that name stuck with me. Good times. Liked this theme, too.

Z 3:49 PM  

Saturday Spoiler Alert
@Evan Jordan - Here's an article about it from about 6 years ago. I'm not real familiar with the term but knew it enough to not bat an eyelash at it yesterday.
Also, many people do not read these blogs in order (syndicated puzzle solvers are one week behind on Sundays and five weeks the rest of the time for example). Out of politeness to other solvers we try to either ask our questions on the right day, put a notice so people know there are spoilers, or be oblique.

oconomowoc 3:58 PM  

Thanks @Nancy (12:13)! Actually, Oconomowoc is the 50th largest city in Wisconsin. For that reason alone it will (unfortunately) never appear in a puzzle like Eagan and Edina, which are 11th and 19th, respectively, in Minnesota.

The Oconomowoc Lakes region is a very "red" area of it's no surprise that it exactly rhymes with "Obama Go Walk".

Ralph 4:01 PM  

My Earth Kitt LP album from about 1952 was one of my all-time favorites. Great songs in French, Spanish, Turkish, English (including 70A), and Swahili.

Hungry Mother 4:52 PM  

Too many names to hold my interest or allow me to finish.

Rina 5:24 PM  

My two claims to fame are that I actually did the puzz today and got 70A with only two crosses. And I was thinking of a different song, probably the Marvin Gaye number. And URDU, instead of ERSE, whatever language that is, rescued NE for me. Imagining that Moody's might dabble in insurance products, I was rescued by NOMAR who confirmed my position that AN ANNUITY is never a good thing.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

I thought the theme song was "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which certainly isn't "Mountain High, Valley Low" (a song I've never heard of, and I was a winner on "Name That Tune"). Plus I don't recall any "If you need me, I'll be nearby" in the lyrics. Seems like a major screw-up to me.

Dbwohl 5:46 PM  

As a musician, I had one qualm: ARIOSO means melodious or aria-like, not 'melodic passage.' Otherwise, enjoyable.

PROTAGORAS ain't a presocratic natick! 5:51 PM  

-: 30-40 years from now when sentient AI is designing crossword puzzles for the enjoyment of other sentient AI we'll all wish we'd given more attention to PROTAGORAS. "Man is the measure of all crosswords." As an early humanist PROTAGORAS was interested in relativism, subjectivism and language use.
Also, become friends with Heraclitus and be friends with Parmenides.

Leapfinger 6:14 PM  

@DrGirlriend Nits


Eartha Kitten and Feline Dion are a couple of MEOWERS. Eartha was still packing Manhattan clubs in her early 80s.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough? I've discovered that 14,000 is about my limit, though it won't be KARST of view. In the NW, it was 26A that got me. SCHMITT-SCHnITT, what's wrong with SCHMIDT, except for"Caveat EMPdOR"?

Liked the sporty tag-team of Dan Marino, Al Kaline and Pele, roundedout with Ramon's little boy Nomar.

Very nice construction, gentlemen, that made me wish I was up in the Rockies again. Well, maybe in July, after more snow melts. If I hafta cross a glacier, shall try not to fall into any Kravis in the ice.

Thanks to Barocas Obama and DONIMUS Dixit to all y'all.

OISK 6:44 PM  

DNF on Karst, which is a term I HAVE heard, (took geology in college) but spelled it Carst. KTEL means nothing to me at all, and I really dislike answers where any letter makes as much sense as any other, and worse, which refer to some product or company that I have never heard of. BUT...I forgive that one detail, because Mountain High, Valley Low is one of my favorite songs! There are two lovely renditions of it saved on my IPOD. Mary Martin, and Jo Stafford. Diana Ross??? Not a choice I would make... Never heard Eartha Kitt sing it either.

It is just a lovely, lovely song when sung by Martin or Stafford. Find it and listen!

@Nancy - Just got back from Austria last week; the puzzles were available in the International Times, no errors until I got home. Now two days in a row! So it goes. We saw "Princess Ida" yesterday, one of my favorite G and S works.

1E4yearoldman 8:51 PM  

Me too

Nancy 10:31 PM  

So, when I discovered that many, many people on this blog had heard of "Mountain High, Valley Low," whereas I had not, I thought I'd take a listen. In doing so, I discovered that it's from a l946 Broadway Musical called LUTE SONG -- the title of which vaguely rang a bell, though I don't know the score at all. It starred Mary Martin and Yul Brynner -- which, I think you'd agree, is none too shabby. Now musical theater is a great interest of mine, so not knowing this show fills me with chagrin. Of course, you might say that I was very, very young in 1946 and that that's my excuse. But OKLAHOMA was 1943; CAROUSEL was 1945; and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN was 1946 -- and I not only know these shows, I can sing every single verse and chorus of every single song in all three shows. So I'm baffled that I don't know LUTE SONG at all. Perhaps it's because it's written by two guys I've never, ever heard of. Anyway, I listened to the Mary Martin version and I listened to the Eartha Kitt version. The song, frankly, didn't do all that much for me in either version. But, as a longtime Mary Martin fan -- in SOUTH PACIFIC, PETER PAN and SOUND OF MUSIC -- I was very surprised to find that I liked the Eartha Kitt version of the song a lot more. @OISK -- Take a listen and see what YOU think.

Leapfinger 11:06 PM  

Well, I guess now that the Great Rift Valley blew up in my face, my vertical dyslexia is a matter of public record.

Waiting for someone to tell me I don't know which way is down.

Pete 12:17 AM  

Major peeve of mine - a song is not "by" the singer who made it famous, it's "by" the composer and lyricist - in the case of Mountain High, Valley Low that pair is Raymond Scott and Bernard Hanighen, respectively.

Jisvan 12:31 AM  

The video link "in the valley" on your review Rex, really? I assume someone has altered it. Its pretty grim at the end...take it down, please.

Anders 10:21 AM  

"Ain't no Mountain High Enough" didn't fit, but boy did I feel proud of myself as I wrote "River Deep Mountain High" -- also 21 letters -- through the middle of this puzzle with no crosses. oops.

Hoped to see this on Rex's writeup:

Sheryl 11:04 AM  

I'm commenting on Monday, since I didn't finish the Sunday puzzle until today. I don't know if Rex will approve a comment posted a day after the puzzle was published. I'll soon see!

I think the puzzle constructors meant to refer to the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", first a hit in 1967 by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and then again in 1970 by Diana Ross and the Supremes, but got the name wrong. I can see why they wanted this to be the name, given the puzzle's theme, but wishing doesn't make it so. They could have resolved this by cluing it differently, for example, "Classic Motown song that could have had this apt title, shown symbolically..."

That said, I knew the song immediately and didn't realize the title was wrong until I read Rex's writeup. The Supremes version was a hit when I was in high school and I liked it.

I liked the circled square overlay. It was clever, and helped in solving once I saw the pattern. I had to google a few of the proper nouns, but had no other bumps and generally enjoyed it.

kitshef 12:07 PM  

@Sheryl - yes, you can comment on a puzzle well after the fact (as you have seen by now). Indeed, there is normally a small rush of comments five weeks after the original NYT publication date, as the Syndilanders get to that puzzle (although the lag is different on Sundays, for some reason).

Izzie 5:59 PM  


Puzzled Peter 9:07 PM  

To Evan Jordan:
Rolf Institute of Structural Integration
Parodied brilliantly in "Semi-Tough" w/Burt Reynolds.

DNF this one, and I practically DNF.
EAGAN/LIAO nailed me...don't know why I struck out on DEAL.
STY? Lame clue, IMHO.
GO HOME? Puleeze.
A friend scans the puzzles for me, so printing out the scan almost obscured the circles, and I never did get the theme, even though I got the song name.
Not a great puzzle, to me.

Anonymous 11:16 PM  

Is not Eugene Cernan the last man to walk onto moon, and Harrison Schmitt the second to last...?

Joe Dipinto 1:47 AM  

@Sheryl on Monday -- but "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" doesn't contain the lyric "If you need me I will be nearby", which is the opening lyric of, and is repeated throughout, "Mountain High Valley Low". I don't think there was any mistake made. But -- perhaps the constructors were banking on people misremembering the name of (and the lyrics of) the Gaye/Terrell song? Sneaky...

BTW nobody mentioned "The Mountain's High", a 1961 Top 10 hit for Dick and DeeDee, which began, "The mountain's high and the valley's so deep..." (To further muddle the issue)

Unknown 11:28 PM  

That song doesn't contain the lyrics mentioned. The Diana Ross song is "Ain't no mountain high enough" not "Mountain high valley low"

Burma Shave 9:09 AM  


INSTATES of ENCHANTment, TREAT them to GIN chased by AMSTELs.
GOHOME with the MOIST COMER, whom you OTTER be dating.


rondo 10:02 AM  

Better than a rebus, and not hard at all. I’m sure @spacey will have something to say re: NFLERS and PARTIII, and I will agree.

I knew that EAGAN would throw off anyone not from here; Edina is just to the SW of Mpls, but EAGAN is a second or third ring suburb SSW of St. Paul on 35E, so more closely associated with St. Paul. EAGAN borders Burnsville which is S of Mpls on 35W and more closely associated with Mpls. Putting “St. Paul” into the clue was a dead giveaway for us locals. I have to go there every coupla weeks to visit a certain Russian market so the missus can have her familiar grocery items.

Kathy MATTEA is my yeah baby today. +/- 15 years ago she was doing her afternoon sound check before playing the MN State Fair (where I once played in a band that opened for Johnny Cash, have I ever mentioned?) and someone had left a gate open that wasn’t supposed to be. I got down right in front of the stage and it was more like a full rehearsal than a sound check so I kinda got her whole concert for free. And Ms. MATTEA’s jeans and tank top fit just right, as I remember FONDLY.

That Russel Crowe film NOAH had to be one of the worst ever.

Relatively quick and easy puz, but back to work. At least 6 more hours before I can GOHOME.

spacecraft 10:45 AM  

Scary thought: I'm in line with OFL today. Questioning the use of "classic" and the almost-raw DEAL--which I too aha!ed just in time--were two points I was going to bring up. I'm also in agreement that this is a fine, very well-executed theme. I especially like two of the valleys, Death and (titter*) Silicon. *This is more of a nickname than a formal geographic place name.

Okay, who didn't write PythAGORAS? Well then, you are a Greek historian and a serious scholar. Hats off to you. A few nits in the fill: couple of awkward partials and those triple vowels at 6-down and 104-across, never gonna be my favorites. Plus, I like NFLERS, especially the ones wearing Eagle green, but detest the term itself. YET these are a small enough price for today's layout. A tap-in birdie.

Scouring the landscape for a DAMSEL...ROSIE? Um, that'd be a no. Oh WAIT! Not O'Donnell, but what about Perez? Yes indeedy, she'll do nicely.

rain forest 5:23 PM  

Well, I had a "classic" @Dirigonzo (where are you?) OWS=One Wrong Square at the MATTEo/GLUSSo cross, mainly because Matteo is a name I know. So, DNF, but it felt like a fine finish at the time.

Before I figured out the theme, I saw that "Roman Empire" fit perfectly where SAN FERNANDO WENT. You know "rise and fall of..." but then I sussed it out with SAINT HELENS. My first valley was DEATH, and I immediately parsed that as The Valley of DEATH, at which I chuckled until I realized what it really was.

Struggled with a few of the naticky areas until MATTEO did me in. Overall, although it approached a slog in places, I had fun with it.

The top of this puzz contained mountains,
I found three because I was countin',
With the valleys down there
And one more than a pair
This theme works out well in recountin'.

Sorry, @BS

BS2 8:42 PM  

@rainy - well done.
Everyone should give it try now and then.

Diana,LIW 8:42 PM  

OHMAN, when IHEARTELLOFN NOAH it's long ago. Skews old, old. Boo. Hiss. BEGS the question, isn't it AMIS?

So much for my RANT.

DNF at the top - the usual suspects. Never heard the revealer song until today, but did know (of course) the distractor song of similar name. You know, the one sung by Diana...

Sigh, Sometimes I think the only reason I keep posting is 'cause I'm so stubborn - y'all are so much better at completing these. And when I do get one, it's labeled "so easy a caveman could do it."

But Rex's MEOWERS video makes it all worthwhile, as my kitty Quincy was sitting on my lap while I played it. Q was RAPTLY listening - I could almost hear him GASPAT those NOISES.


Diana, Waiting, waiting, waiting for PARTIII of my crossword career

Phillip Blackerby 5:35 PM  

The whole west-middle section accounts for my DNF. Never heard of a CELESTA or Mozart's unfinished opera. Sounds like the title was unfinished as well. Maybe I could have figured out the rest had I not insisted that NurSES were the ones keeping me awake at night with meds and blood pressure checks.

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