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New York Times, Thursday, March 16, 2017

Author: Joel Fagliano
Editor: Will Shortz
Joel Fagliano
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5410/22/20097/16/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
12810610224
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 69, Blocks: 35 Missing: {BQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 53 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jeff Chen notes: This puzzle REDACTED, the FBI, NSA, and CIA 'blacked out' (see grid below for details). I immediately knew something odd was ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

This puzzle REDACTED, the FBI, NSA, and CIA "blacked out" (see grid below for details).

I immediately knew something odd was going on, given that 21-, 38-, and 55-Across had the telltale [---] indication of "no clue." But I had DOLPHIN FREE TUNA stuck in my head. And LOOSELEAF TEA, for some reason ... even though that makes no sense for [Student's note-taking aid].

I also wondered why these three orgs had been REDACTED in the horizontal direction, but not the vertical. Well, from a construction perspective, it would be at least an order of magnitude to do the REDACTED squares in both directions — it'd be as if those nine black squares were essentially white squares.

That might even be an impossible task, given how huge those swaths of white squares would be. Just that upper right corner alone … imagine that those "FBI" squares were white. Yikes, that'd be even tricky for a themeless grid, much less a themed one!

Speaking of that, Joel uses a themeless count, all the way down to 72 words (the max for a themeless). It allows for some great bonuses, especially in the upper right and lower left corners: STATICKY, PINE CONE, FOOT RACE, ALL IN FUN (REST AREA is a little drab in comparison). KISSED UP and SETH ROGEN were also fun bonuses.

Nice insider's nod to work in GLUEY, an adjective I often apply to entries like ANS, ITI, RNC (Republican National … Convention? Ah, Committee.). Joel does well to weave his puzzle together in such a way that it doesn't require very many GLUEY bits to hold everything together. Great craftsmanship that I've come to expect from Joel.

Some of the longer stuff wasn't super exciting, though. THE TRUTH felt partial-ish, and entries like SPRAYER, CONTEND, CRYING OUT feel like they do their job without adding much. Ah, the eternal trade-off of snazziness vs. smoothness in fill …

It'd have been great to get something a little more exciting than LOOSELEAF BINDER — maybe DATE OF BIRTH … which sometimes does get redacted! On that note, it was a little odd to redact the orgs themselves, not secrets they want to keep.

But all in all, some secretive fun.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0316 ( 24,600 )
Across Down
1. Pipe with a tube : HOOKAH
7. Like out-of-range stations : STATICKY
15. Three times : THRICE
16. Part of many a wreath : PINECONE
17. "Aren't you glad I'm back?" : MISSME
18. Place with picnic tables, often : RESTAREA
19. Student's note-taking aid : LOOSELEAFBINDER
22. Christopher Hitchens and Marcel Proust, for two : ESSAYISTS
26. Played at a party, say : DJED
29. He portrayed Steve Wozniak in "Steve Jobs" : SETHROGEN
33. Org. whose website has a "Know Your Rights" tab : ACLU
34. Narrow grooves : STRIAE
35. Opposite of weather, on a ship : LEE
36. Eco-friendly seafood designation : DOLPHINSAFETUNA
40. It might come from a tap : ALE
41. Draw out : ELICIT
45. Prince, for one : HEIR
46. Hit : SENSATION
48. Hawks have sharp ones : EYES
49. Yelling : CRYINGOUT
52. Large wire : ASSOCIATEDPRESS
59. Sprint, e.g. : FOOTRACE
63. Gets away from : ELUDES
64. Not seriously : ALLINFUN
65. "Bacchus and Ariadne" painter, circa 1523 : TITIAN
66. Used a black marker on ... or a hint to three chunks of black squares in this puzzle : REDACTED
67. Unspecified group : OTHERS
1. Counterpart of JavaScript : HTML
2. Home to Bowling Green : OHIO
3. Roundabouts : ORSO
4. Acted sycophantically : KISSEDUP
5. Peaks : ACMES
6. Prom wear, for some : HEELS
7. Pesticide applier : SPRAYER
8. 7-up, for example : TIE
9. True or false: Abbr. : ANS
10. Asian holiday : TET
11. "Don't doubt me!" : ICANSO
12. Drawstring, e.g. : CORD
13. Attack in an underhanded way : KNEE
14. Name tag info at an alumni event : YEAR
20. Big ___ Conference : EAST
23. "Lord, is ___?" : ITI
24. Arrow part : SHAFT
25. Skier's obstacle : TREE
26. Fathers, to babies : DADAS
27. Rapper with the 2013 #1 album "Born Sinner" : JCOLE
28. Page in a Hollywood script? : ELLEN
30. Mucilaginous : GLUEY
31. Counting word : EENIE
32. Verges on : NEARS
34. Like river deltas : SILTY
37. Catch, in a way : HEAR
39. It's "rarely pure and never simple," per Oscar Wilde : THETRUTH
42. The Richard in a Shakespeare title : III
43. Struggle (with) : CONTEND
44. "Picnic" playwright : INGE
47. Nova ___ : SCOTIA
50. Poem title starter : ODETO
51. Like many monuments at night : UPLIT
52. Place to worship from : AFAR
53. Lone : SOLE
54. Completely convinced : SOLD
56. Woman's name that sounds like its first two letters : EDIE
57. Put over high heat : SEAR
58. IDs that are often not displayed in full: Abbr. : SSNS
60. G.O.P. org. : RNC
61. Back at sea : AFT
62. It has a tip for game-playing : CUE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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