El cheap cigar slangily / SUN 4-13-14 / Actor Gulager of old TV / Tony-winning Robert Morse role / Triatomic oxygen molecule / 1980s Chrysler offering
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Constructor: Dan Schoenholz
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: It's Taxing! — familiar phrases are wackily clued ("?") as if they have something to do with taxes.
- WITHHOLDING CONSENT (25A: Agreement for an amount to be taken from one's salary?)
- MANY HAPPY RETURNS (33A: What C.P.A.'s wish for their clients?)
- ROLL THE CREDITS (49A: C.P.A.'s advice for lowering future-year liabilities?)
- TABLE FOR TWO (67A: Chart used to calculate a married couple's taxes?)
- SCHEDULE CHANGE (81A: I.R.S. update?)
- EMERGENCY SHELTER (93A: Last-minute way to reduce tax for a desperate filer?)
- BRILLIANT DEDUCTION (104A: C.P.A.'s masterstroke?)
- A quantity of objects stacked or thrown together in a heap. See synonyms at heap.
- Informal. A large accumulation or quantity: a pile of trouble.
- Slang. A large sum of money; a fortune: made their pile in the commodities market.
- A funeral pyre.
- A very large building or complex of buildings.
- A nuclear reactor.
- A voltaic pile.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/pile#ixzz2yik56qUz
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If you're going to make a puzzle about taxes, you should go out of your way to make it much, much more interesting than actually doing your taxes. This one was pretty boring, I thought. Yes, "withholding," "returns," etc. are all words that have tax-related meanings, but there's just no joy in this wackiness. Taken on their own, virtually all of the theme answers make me sleepy (I am one whisky sour to the wind, it's true, but puzzles are supposed to *reverse* alcohol's soporific power, not aggravate it). Taken as joke answers … well, the jokes just aren't funny. Most of the theme answers sound like tax-related answers all by themselves. The reorientation of the "?" clue isn't reorienting enough for there to be a real jolt of humor. These are the kind of lame puns unfunny CPAs might make around the office. Fill is adequate but forgettable. This one must've tickled Someone. Just not me.
Solving issues—I have no idea how PILE is a [Reactor], and I apparently can't spell HAMAN (46A: Purim villain), so that eastern section took a while to come together. Vague cluing on RAPID (59A: Fast) meant delay in the symmetrical western section as well. EBANKS is horrible (76A: Websites of interest?). LENITY is real but dated / old-fashioned / strange / [frowny face] (99D: Laxness). A single DREG is more amusing than anything else. Face with FT--- at 74D: Army base near Petersburg, Va. I tried ORD and DIX. It was LEE. Frowny face on *me* there. I remembered ECOTONE! Well, I kinda sorta thought it was ECOTYPE, but still! Close! (52D: Transition area from deciduous to evergreen, e.g.) REDBONE was … unexpected. Also unknown. Well, unknown as a [Breed of hunting dog]. The blues musician, I'm familiar with. Or there's these guys…
Puzzle of the Week! There were three that stood out to me this week. The first was Byron Walden's great American Values Club puzzle, "Equal Say" (get it here) (read about it here). Byron gets an astonishing amount of mileage out of relatively simple concepts. His themers tend to be both wildly inventive and *legitimately* funny. Next was Peter Wentz's Friday themeless, which I rhapsodized about two days ago. Jam-packed with fantastic fill, and smooth from stem to stern. Really great work. But the ribbon this week goes to Frank Longo for his Saturday Stumper (Newsday), an epic themeless that kicked my ass up and down the block earlier today. What made the puzzle great was the combination of solid, interesting fill and unbelievably brutal cluing. [They develop less of a head cold] for BEERS. [Electric splitter, maybe] for ROOMIE. [Once common stage direction] for WEST (I might actually have stopped and applauded that one). If you like real challenges—the kind that might require many sittings before you conquer it—then you should definitely be doing the Stumper (available in many local papers, as well as here, every week).