It’s pretty calm outside right now, but they say the wind will pick up again tomorrow. Still freezing here, though. Right now it’s 47 outside. Crazy.
Counterintuitively, this was not only the fastest puzzle so far this week. Probably using the theme and making no errors helped, though.
I pulled out 55A How Russia ranks first among all countries: INAREA because that certainly wasn’t my first thought. I knew it couldn’t have been anything rude because it’s unlikely that even Will Shortz wants to become a target of the FSB. On the other hand, there’s no reason to think he’s not currently an operative.
After all, this puzzle’s theme is about the United States executive branch.
17A Place to land that’s not on land: AIRCRA(FTC)ARRIER.
23A 2002 musical that won eight Tonys: HA(IRS)PRAY.
37A Very picture of idleness?: SCREE(NSA)VER.
52A Felix of “The Odd Couple,” for one: NE(ATF)REAK.
59A Treasury notes … or what the two sides of 17-, 23-, 37- and 52-Across are joined with?: GOVERNMENTBONDS.
This really seems like useful code for all these organizations in what appears to be normal conversation:
You can call the Federal Trade Commission the aircraft carrier. “Hey, how do you think the aircraft carrier will deal with facebook?”
You can call the Internal Revenue Service hairspray. “Donald Trump says he has too much hairspray involvement in auditing his tax returns to release them to us.”
You can call the National Security Agency the screensaver. “Did you hear that the tongue-in-cheek name for screensaver was no such agency?”
You can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives the neatfreak. “How are we going to smuggle all these crates of guns and booze over the border without the neatfreak getting in the way?”
You’d never suspect with any of these that anything nefarious is going on.
Finished this one in a cool 7:38.