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New York Times, Thursday, March 16, 2017

Author:
Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6510/22/20096/16/20196
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16911910325
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1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 69, Blocks: 35 Missing: {BQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 53 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
This puzzle REDACTED, the FBI, NSA, and CIA 'blacked out' (see grid below for details). I immediately knew something odd was ... read more

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 )

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Across
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
Down
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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