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New York Times, Friday, September 5, 2014

Author: Joe Krozel
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Krozel
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847/7/20061/12/201715
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Morse Code
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 29 Missing: {JQXY} Spans: 8, (2 triple stacks) This is puzzle # 69 for Mr. Krozel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Krozel notes: As groundwork for this puzzle, I created various Morse code palindromes — first noting that letters E, T, I, R, S, O, P, M, ... more
Joe Krozel notes: As groundwork for this puzzle, I created various Morse code palindromes — first noting that letters E, T, I, R, S, O, P, M, K, X, and H are symmetric in Morse code while letter pairs A/N, D/U, G/W, B/V, L/F and Q/Y are mirror images. But only nonsense emerged: NUN AWAITING NADA; WAIF GO HOWLING; TEAR IN HAIRNET; RING OF SLOW AIR; NET LOSS OF TEA; SEQUIN SAID YES. Really goofy stuff.

So I abandoned the thematic-entry approach and looked toward grid art using black squares to spell out a simple Morse code palindrome: WAITING, FOOTSTOOL or TOP SPOT. I devised numerous odd-sized grids that mostly wouldn't fill before stumbling upon the present grid which would.

Somewhere in the whole process I decided it wouldn't be fair to expect solvers to even know Morse code to get 20-Down, so I double-clued it. As such, the puzzle has only the slightest hint of a theme: one might describe it as more of a themeless with a post-solve conversation piece. (This seems to be one of my signature constructing styles). So, hopefully a few solvers are enticed to ponder the subject of Morse code palindromes for an extra bit of amusement.

Finally, a few words about fill. Given the fixed nature of the grid, it was important to me to introduce as much novel content among the 11- and 15-letter entries; I also wanted the 3- and 4-letter entries to be common stuff. Plus, I wanted all easy content in the vicinity of 20-Down. So, I hope these mini-objectives helped me achieve my goal of an interesting yet smooth solve overall.

Will Shortz notes: I have a feeling today's puzzle won't be liked by some of the crossword bloggers, as the grid's vocabulary isn't the most ... more
Will Shortz notes: I have a feeling today's puzzle won't be liked by some of the crossword bloggers, as the grid's vocabulary isn't the most scintillating, and it has a lot of three-letter words. Still, the fill is solid, and 17A, 38A, 25D, 26D and 43D are quite nice, so to me this is worthy. Most of all, the gimmick with the black squares is just ... wow!
Jeff Chen notes: Joe continues to impress me with his experimentation in constructing. If you haven't noticed, he's recently given me commentary on ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Joe continues to impress me with his experimentation in constructing. If you haven't noticed, he's recently given me commentary on his older puzzles, which I've found fascinating. Joe falls on one end of the spectrum, using all the software at his disposal to execute on his very creative puzzles, and I've picked up some neat tips by reading through and learning more about his approach.

I hear grumbling every now and then about constructors relying too heavily on software, but why wouldn't you use all the tools at your disposal? Sure, you need to exercise care as you lay out and fill a puzzle to make sure it's clean and snappily filled, but computers make that so much easier. Trying out dozens or even hundreds of grid arrangements is invaluable. And if software enables new developments and directions, I'm all for it.

My experience today started out mixed. I like triple- and quad-stacks, as they're a visually stunning sight. But we've had so many of them that I apply normal criteria to them these days: snazziness plus cleanliness. So when I ran into a smattering of ETH, ITT, the old-timey ALDO / POLA next to each other, HOTL / ANGE, I was a little disappointed, truth be told.

But when I finally hit that WAITING entry, I paused, thinking that there was no way someone could spell out a word in Morse code through the black squares. Impossible! I grinned as I checked the Morse code chart and saw DOT DASH DASH in row four corresponded to W. Joe pulled off something new, different, and cool yet again.

Granted, some people will point out that this is more a puzzle for constructors than solvers. And I wish that the word WAITING had instead been MORSE CODE or even something meta like DOT DASH, but that does seem impossible. I imagine that very few words would fit into a crossword grid like WAITING did. A CHALLENGE TO YOU ALL: is there anything even remotely thematic to Morse code that one could form out of a symmetric grid?

I love seeing these puzzles that push the boundaries. If you have a chance, go back and read Joe's other Constructor's Notes. Even if you don't like some of the puzzles, I would find it difficult not to admire his pushing of the envelope.

1
O
2
L
3
D
4
A
5
G
6
E
7
P
8
E
9
N
10
S
11
I
12
O
13
N
14
E
15
R
16
R
E
E
D
U
C
A
T
I
O
N
C
A
M
P
17
R
A
C
E
T
O
T
H
E
B
O
T
T
O
M
18
V
O
S
S
19
K
E
N
S
20
W
E
N
T
21
F
22
E
23
A
R
24
H
25
M
26
O
27
A
S
S
E
28
T
A
L
L
O
29
C
30
A
31
T
I
O
N
32
I
T
T
33
O
Z
M
A
34
I
S
O
L
D
E
35
T
O
R
36
I
N
O
37
C
A
P
L
E
T
38
I
D
U
N
N
O
39
R
40
O
A
M
41
B
R
O
42
N
I
C
K
E
L
43
A
N
D
D
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44
M
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G
45
G
E
T
46
D
A
D
A
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A
L
D
O
48
C
49
H
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A
W
51
P
O
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A
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P
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A
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T
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55
G
56
E
57
H
I
R
I
N
58
G
59
G
R
E
A
T
G
R
A
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60
S
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M
L
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S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0905 ( 23,677 )
Across Down
1. Elderly person on a fixed income : OLDAGEPENSIONER
16. Propagandists' detention site : REEDUCATIONCAMP
17. Deterioration of standards by competitive forces : RACETOTHEBOTTOM
18. 1957 Patrick White novel adapted into a 1986 opera : VOSS
19. Comprehends : KENS
20. Didn't clash (with) : WENT
21. What a chicken feels : FEAR
24. G.P. grp. : HMO
27. Diversified investment strategy : ASSETALLOCATION
32. Corp. whose name is also its stock symbol : ITT
33. L. Frank Baum princess : OZMA
34. Title heroine of a Wagner opera : ISOLDE
35. Ford from the past : TORINO
37. It's easy to swallow : CAPLET
38. "Beats me" : IDUNNO
39. Go outside the calling area, say : ROAM
41. Dawg : BRO
42. Charging for every little thing : NICKELANDDIMING
45. With 11-Down, become a part of : GET
46. With 53-Down, many Marcel Duchamp works : DADA
47. Ray of old pictures : ALDO
48. It's a mouthful : CHAW
51. Silents actress Negri : POLA
52. Political machine practice : PATRONAGEHIRING
59. Eugenia Washington (co-founder of the Daughters of the American Revolution), to George Washington : GREATGRANDNIECE
60. Tumblers : STEMLESSGLASSES
1. Bruin legend : ORR
2. Heartlessly abandons : LEAVESTODIE
3. Break down : DECONSTRUCT
4. Hymn opener : ADESTE
5. Courage : GUTS
6. Friendly start? : ECO
7. Word that is its own synonym when spelled backward : PAT
8. Biblical ending : ETH
9. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Phil : NIEKRO
10. PepsiCo brand : SOBE
11. See 45-Across : INON
12. Fall mos. : OCTS
13. D.C. player : NAT
14. Like some broody teens : EMO
15. Dash letters : RPM
20. On hold ... or what the seven rows of black squares in this puzzle's grid spell in Morse code : WAITING
21. Pasta ___ (Italian dish, informally) : FAZOOL
22. Smooth-leaved ___ : ELM
23. Much like : ALA
24. Some backwoods folks : HILLBILLIES
25. Alvin Ailey's field : MODERNDANCE
26. "Just about done" : ONETOGO
28. Metric weight : TONNE
29. One coming out of its shell? : CICADA
30. "Me too" : ASAMI
31. Best : TOP
36. Contents of a well : INK
39. It's stranded, for short : RNA
40. Head-scratching : ODD
43. Televised fights? : ADWARS
44. Native New Zealanders : MAORIS
48. Pack (in) : CRAM
49. Lanford Wilson's "The ___ Baltimore" : HOTL
50. Messenger de Dieu : ANGE
51. ___ colada : PINA
52. "War and Peace" has a lot of them: Abbr. : PGS
53. See 46-Across : ART
54. Silkscreen target : TEE
55. Oomph : GAS
56. Lang. class : ENG
57. Blood test letters : HDL
58. Some appliances, for short : GES

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?

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