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.

Theme answers:
  • 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?)
Word of the Day: PILE (39A: Reactor) —
  1. A quantity of objects stacked or thrown together in a heap. See synonyms at heap.
  2. Informal. A large accumulation or quantity: a pile of trouble.
  3. Slang. A large sum of money; a fortune: made their pile in the commodities market.
  4. A funeral pyre.
  5. A very large building or complex of buildings.
  6. A nuclear reactor.
  7. A voltaic pile.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/pile#ixzz2yik56qUz
• • •

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).

Lastly, two plugs that have nothing to do with crosswords. Just want to promote a couple of artists whose work I admire. The first is Amelie Mancini whose amazing baseball art — which includes baseball card packs with themes like "Bizarre Injuries" and "Marvelous Mustaches" as well as cool t-shirt designs and assorted other stuff — can be found at Left Field Cards. I get compliments on my "Knuckle Ball" t-shirt all the time. I caught a girl sketching it on the subway ride to Yankee Stadium last summer. Anyway, Amelie's work makes me smile, so maybe you'll like it too. And then there's the new graphic memoir by my friend AK Summers, who used to be in a writing group with me Back In The Day. I was so so excited to see that her brilliant book "Pregnant Butch" had come out this year. I was lucky enough to get to read parts of it in its very early stages. I learned a lot about comics from reading her drafts, and from the conversations our group would have about her book's tone, pacing, layout, humor, etc. Here is a very nice interview with AK at The Guardian, which will give you some idea about who she is and what the book's about. Get her book wherever book-type things are sold. Here, try Powell's. They're cool.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Mark 12:05 AM  

Either the puzzles this week were easier, or I've gotten stronger at solving. Maybe both. ECOTONE, ONHIGH, ASHCAN seem to be familiar friends who've appeared recently as well as today. I confess I used to subscribe to UTNE Reader, but I swear I see it now more frequently in NYT crosswords than I saw it when I was a regular reader.

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Agreed on dull. First puzzle I quit trying to solve for lack of interest in months.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Don't always agree with Rex but on this I was 99.8% on the same page. Wanted to like this much more than I actually did.

jae 12:35 AM  

Easy-medium for me.   Timely, but Rex is right, a bit blah.

Not sure a MIATA is comparable to a Mustang,  T-Bird maybe?

Did not know REDBONE the hunting dog, now Leon REDBONE...

Me too for Dix before LEE. 

John Child 1:15 AM  


I stopped three-quarters of the way through.

retired_chemist 1:25 AM  

Easy here. Didn't find it boring or objectionable. OK, E-BANKS ought to be clued as a Hall of Fame Shortstop for the Cubs becazuse the clue given is über-lame. And UTNE Reader is indeed now high crosswordese. But,basically, not a lot of dreck IMO.

The redbone coonhound is often referred to as a redbone.

Thanks, Mr. Schoenholz.

MikeM 1:41 AM  

Took me way way too long to get THEAS. Just could not parse, didnt click. I knew it had to be the Oakland A's or Cinncinati Reds. I agree with the comment above about MIATAS and Mustangs. I did the puzzle while I did my taxes. Capital Gains tax and AMT have killed me. Ugh...

Casco Kid 1:49 AM  

2:05, 2 googles ANARCHY HAMAN + 3 errors HELLIaNs/aHa/YaWL. 95% complete in an hour but east and west equatorial regions weren't gelling without clarifying the classical and biblical references. As HELLION is a word I've heard but never seen, I'll just call that blunder a teachable moment. I knew something looked funny about YaWL. I guess YOWL is *not* a 3rd or 4th level sub definition. The glass is 134/139 full. "Mark in the 90s" :D

Big delay due to irS for EDS [S.A.S.E. Recipients] giving me _____rULECHANGES, from which SCHEDULECHANGES was nearly invisible.

Mostly Easy-Medium with 2 medium challenging domains and no aha! OHO!!

For the week: 6 DNFs, 2 of which were excruciating. So, slightly below average week.

@rex, A nuclear reactor is referred to as an atomic pile. That's real lab jargon there. Details pertain to the early bomb project. Think of a pile of uranium constituting critical mass.

Casco Kid 2:05 AM  

Kudos for the grid art. Looks like an old punch card.

@mikem, my daddy always told me that paying taxes was good. It meant that you made money. That's a cause for celebration. That it was capital gains is even better: a lower tax rate, and you didn't have to lift a finger. Pay and rejoice!

paulsfo 2:44 AM  

@Casco Kid & @ Rex: I think of "pile" (or "atomic pile") as common knowledge (I'm 60).

Agree that EBANKS (E-almost anything) should really not be allowed by the editor, and that the theme was ho-hum.

Liked the clues for MASHUP, ORION, and LATRINE.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

@ret_chemist - never heard of a Redbone Coonhound, very attractive dog.

Puzzle - not so attractive, as others have stated, kinda boring. Got 'er done, but no whoo hoo!

George Barany 3:32 AM  

Interesting writeup by @Rex with several surprising side trips. A year ago, my friends and I wrote Schedule C is for Crossword for a relevant centennial. We hope that the density of theme entries and collateral information make up for a few imperfections to the puzzle, and that regular readers of this blog do not find it to be overly taxing.

Moly Shu 3:51 AM  

Same lack of zip complaint here. primATE before IMITATE caused problems as did PILE. New definition for me. Couldn't believe LENITY was correct, still don't like it.

@GeorgeBarany, I see what you did there. Funny

Arlene 6:10 AM  

Not my favorite subject - finished but was glad to be done with it.

Susierah 7:19 AM  

Finished in 53 minutes with no googles, but several errors. Words I did not know tripped me up. Assured for ensured which gave me pila and Hamas. Howl for yowl which gave me Lenith. ? Reva for reza which gave me ovone. So, I learned some new vocabulary today, which is always a good thing!

Bob Kerfuffle 7:23 AM  

Thought it was easy, no write-overs, but in my mind, at 23 A, "Elevated", for a while I only had _NH___ and was hung up on the idea of UNHOLY!

chefbea 7:31 AM  

I agree...boring. No aha / oho moments!!
Loved the answer for european wheels!!!! I'm sure @Mac liked it too.

AnnieD 7:41 AM  

Actually, I thought the theme and the puns were cute...table for two was funny. I mean, c'mon, it's a crossword puzzle....about taxes....you were expecting George Carlin funny?

pauer 8:06 AM  
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pauer 8:07 AM  

Tough subject matter to make appealing, but I liked it. Some nice, open areas, and I was reminded of the friend whose mother told him never to EATALONE lest he choke on something and have nobody there to save him. "Thanks, mom."

In other news: ever wanted to earn your Honorary Bachelor's Degree in Enigmatology? Well, now you can! My 5th Puzzlefest, "Xword University," has a collegiate theme and is available now at patrickblindauer.com. It consists of a dozen crosswords, each of which leads to an answer. Combine all of your answers to solve the meta-puzzle, and email the correct answer to be eligible for the random drawing of puzzle books. (Contest ends at 11:30 ET, April 27.) For only $15 you'll be guaranteed admission to Xword University and will receive an invitation to my College Puzzlefest Google Group where you can access the PDF of puzzles. Hope to see you on the quad at XU!

Glimmerglass 8:16 AM  

I hate LENITTY. Sounds like a made-up word, not unlike my actual answer (LENITh), which I like just as well. Not a great puzzle, though I did like TABLE FOR TWO.

Sheila Bell 8:35 AM  

This was taxing, and boring. With Rex on this one!

jberg 9:14 AM  

I got my taxes in a couple months ago, my CPA somehow found me a huge refund, and it showed up in my bank account yesterday -- so I was in a good mood for this one. Also, I'd heard of PILE in this context, though I agree it's a little obscure today. Wish it was more obscure, actually.

Next time it can be clued as "Voltaic _______, which we all know now thanks to @Rex.

Other than that, and after I got rid of payrolL at 25A, my only problems were Oks for ORS and thinking APuA was the capital of Samoa. Oh, and confusing Utah with Algeria and putting in ORem. Anyone else fall for that?

Better clue for 108D: "Govt. std. for a type of battery."

Carola 9:33 AM  
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Carola 9:44 AM  
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Carola 9:45 AM  

I thought it was a nice try at making taxes fun, and give it extra CREDITS for TABLE FOR TWO and BRILLIANT DEDUCTION. Also for ROBBERY as a bonus tax-related answer.

DNF due to guessing LENITh x hOWL (Hi, @Glimmerglass). Never thought to run the alphabet for an alternative letter.

I liked REPASTS + EAT ALONE, LE ROI + PALAIS, EARTH + ON HIGH (funny to see that again so soon), and the little grid jokes of AAR x ARE, ARAT over ARAB, and the group of ORS: ORY, ORAN and ORAL (@jberg - I think I've finally gotten my OR- cities lined up - also the Russian Orel).

Ludyjynn 9:57 AM  

My Dad, who was a NYTimes puzzlemeister and a CPA, would have gotten a kick out of this perfectly respectable Tax Day homage.

For most of my childhood, he worked for a firm in the next town, and only occasionally brought home work or met with clients in The Den, which he slowly but surely transformed into The Office.

By the time I was a teenager, he became a solo practitioner, working from home, many years before doing so became the norm. My brothers and I were trained how to properly answer his office phone and deal w/ clients, no mean feat for rebellious teens!

Finally, when I went off to college, his practice was thriving so well, he needed to expand The Office. Unbeknownst to me, until I came home for January Break, he had converted part of my bedroom into his copy center. In the middle of the night, as Tax Season heated up, he would creep into my bedroom to access the behemoth Xerox machine atop my bedroom desk, waking me from a sound sleep.
The next morning, when I whined about the matter to my Mom, she lovingly advised me to keep my big mouth shut as she reminded me that the noisy copier was financing my very expensive college education. Needless to say, as usual, she was right. I never said another word.

Thanks, DS, for the memories.

Z 10:10 AM  

Hey - I see shadows on the wall.

Liked the themers, but the fill was pretty meh. At least Rex could misspell HAMAN, then there is stuff like LENITY, EBANKS, ENUF, EENY, APIA, ILLY - all of them really calling attention to themselves during the solve.

The important news in the mitten these days is how our failure to tax ourselves enough the past 20 years have led to horrendous roads and a serious falling behind other states in academic achievement.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Interesting that, in the Magmic app, the clue for 94D is "Alternatives to Vipers", not "Mustangs". Even more of a stretch.

Mohair Sam 11:30 AM  

Wife had this about 90% finished before I woke up this morning. She said it was easy-medium and that she enjoyed it (as opposed to most people here).

Let me PILE on top of the group piling on Rex about PILE. Had summer job at Brookhaven Lab for two years. About once a week the boss ordered me and my lawn mower up to the PILE to mow. The nuclear reactor had no other name. And yes, when you mowed around the PILE you had to wear one of those radiation badges.

loren muse smith 11:39 AM  

This was the toughest Sunday for me in a while, and I started off really filling ILLY. Lots of missteps of course didn't help. Got ZSA ZSA's name wrong right out of the gate. "Zha" kept me wanting "haf _ _..." for SAFE AREA. I also thought it was "segueway," so I didn't get that for a long time.

"Pintos" for MIATAS messed me up, as did
ECO ZONE (mini malapop)
"artifact" for ART GLASS
"nuff" for ENUF
"bawl" for YOWL (hi, @glimmerglass and @Carola

SEGWAY - seems we sometimes drop that ue and sometimes we don't. Segue/SEG, dialogue/dialog, catalogue/catalog, monologue/monolog yes. Brogue, tongue, Prague, meringue, vogue, intrigue, rogue, colleague are not sometimes brog, tong, Prag, mering, vog, intrig, rog, or colleag. If there's a rule about when it can be dropped, it's pretty vag.

ANNEAL, HEW (in that sense), and LENITY were completely unknown to me.

I kept trying to fit "gouging" for ROBBERY off that "o." Talk about a logue jam. Sheesh.

It is my custom to leave NARY a DREG or SCRAP on my plate, especially at Thanksgiving or Easter. I'm always fascinated (and jealous) of those who stop when they're full.

I keep seeing BEA PAL, as in Betty or Rue.

ANARCHY, ZOOS, HELLIONS, PEST, CRIME. Been subbing a lot in Calhoun County ELHI (anyone else notice that that crossed with ON HIGH?)

REDBONE – I've been growled at by exactly three puppies in my life. One was this nasty Pomeranian puppy named Amy. I bet she wasn't three months old, when, in the safety of her owner's arms, she bared her teeth at me as I was going in for the pat. A. Pup. Py. Before that, though, we agreed to let a friend keep his dogs – a mother Chow named Maggie and her two puppies (dad was a Doberman), Tousser and REDBONE – at our house for a few weeks. Tousser and REDBONE always gave us a low, menacing growl whenever we were near them. What's worse, they just looked, somehow, off. As in Deliverance off.

I liked this one just fine, TABLE FOR TWO being well worth the price of admission. Thanks for the work-out, Dan!

AliasZ 11:49 AM  

It is a thankless job constructing a puzzle in tribute to the most hated event of the year. It is comparable to a tribute puzzle celebrating appendectomy. Despite this handicap, Dan Schoenholz did an admirable job, and came up with a few snappy phrases incorporating common words often heard leading up to April 15. My favorite was BRILLIANT DEDUCTION.

For "___ disease" I wanted
ALZHEIMER'S but didn't remember why.
For "How now! ___?": Hamlet, I wanted BROWN COW, but I don't think Hamlet ever said that.
For "There is no greater evil than ___": "Antigone", I wanted THE IRS.
For ROBBERY I wanted the clue to be "What the IRS is engaged in, after highway"

I limped through this puzzle ILLY, because it showed me NARY an ounce of LENITY. Now I am going to my secret hideout and chew on a RED BONE with ART GLASS, CLU Gulager, ELHI, HAMAN, and all the HELLIONS of FT. LEE.

YOWL have a great Sunday now, ya hear?

Gill I. P. 12:03 PM  

It's not ECOzONE? So many write-overs...One I just didn't want to give up was Dior for that god-awful smelling TABU...
I thought SHAG meant something entirely different than that baseball clue....
One day I will be able to spell YACHTS.
Hard puzzle but I did find it somewhat amusing.
Back to watching Liverpool knock the pants off of Manchester United.

Brookboy 12:04 PM  

Put me in the small group that thinks this was an OK puzzle, a good one for tax day.

Don't know if I'm actually getting better at crosswords in general, or just that I was tuned in to this one, but I didn't have much trouble with it.

Only problem for me was hOLdTHECREDITS (49A), which didn't seem to make much sense, until I realized that the Breed of hunting dog (49D) probably wasn't a hEDBONE. Voila!

Thank you, Mr. Schoenholz, for an enjoyable time.

@LMS, I really enjoyed your intriging comments.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Loved European wheels. Wanted to put in "prams" until it came to me. Not sure what you mean about dropping the ue on SEGWAY. A Segway is a two wheel firm of transportation. Overall agree theme answers were not too fun - except maybe table for two.

Fred Romagnolo 12:23 PM  

Loved TABLE FOR TWO, CRIME, & MANY HAPPY RETURNS. I'm with the people who are asking some of you guys to lighten up. You REXISTS seem to be taking the whole thing too seriously. HAMAN is in the King James Bible, you don't have to be religious to appreciate it as one of the greatest works of English literature (contemporary with Shakespeare). PILE is familiar to us oldies. I'll trade it to you kids for one of your damned pop music performers. 5D comes when Hamlet kills Polonius. I hate ILLY. Hate, hate, hate it! (thanks, Roger)

Bill from FL 12:24 PM  

My response was dominated by the REPAST ANARCHY PUNCHES section, which gave me that uh-oh feeling. I had _ _ _ _ RULECHANGE, so none of the crosses (which came slowly) made sense until I saw the mistake.

Andrew Heinegg 1:16 PM  

Okay, so let's get to the bottom of this. A good themed puzzle based on tax day, New Year's Day or any other secular kind of day is a very rare bird indeed. The essential problem with nearly all of them is the strain required to be used to adhere to the theme, make the solving at least moderately thought provoking and humorous. It is hard and most puzzle composers cannot do it. But, that will not stop editors from publishing these 'gems' at the appropriate time of year.

Steve J 1:31 PM  

It appears I'm in a distinct minority in that I mostly enjoyed this. So many pun puzzles rely on nonsense phrases as a result, so I really appreciated that this relied on phrases that are actually in the language. I'll take that kind of "flatness" over strained, nonsensical puns that we often get.

While I mostly liked it, this was far from a great puzzle. It would have been nice to see a little zip outside the theme. CRASH PAD is the only long answer that sings. There was more than its fair share of junk: E-BANKS is yet another terrible, forced e-something that makes the puzzle appear to be straight out of 1995, and if I never see ELHI and AAR again, it'll be too soon. There were some clever clues (I liked clues for EAVES and LATRINE), but overall it was middle-of-the-road.

Regarding alternatives to MIATA (I also had it clued as an alternative to a Viper, which is a $100k car, compared to the MIATA's $25k): I've long since grudgingly come to accept that in the world of the NYT crossword, something's an alternative if it's the same essential class of thing. Someone's actually trying to decide between the two need not be considered. In fact, it shouldn't be, as it'll usually send you off on the wrong trail.

mac 1:51 PM  

I found this one medium but in the end I had only two write-overs: ecozone and "robbing" (OverchargING) at

Illy is a very strange word, almost as strange as Illing.
I too thought it would be Segue, but I let the crosses take care of it.

Love Hellions, tierra and many happy returns.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Wait, what? Why is Billy Bragg here? Not that I am complaining --"I'm celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo." What's not to like?

Anyway, thanks for that and all else I have to say is: ILLY? Really? The SE kind of ended with not a bang but a whimper. Otherwise, I enjoyed it.


daniyal raza 2:13 PM  

Genuines Works of Data Entry, Copy Pasting, Add Posting, Clicking, Web Surfing, Website Visiting, Article Sharing, Data Sharing, Google Business Plan and Much More Business Plans

Benko 2:37 PM  

I would have preferred ILLY be clued as the European coffee company.
@LMS--Just did your two puzzles over at George Barany's website. Great work! Liked them both. Smooth and fun. Should have been published. Recommend that everyone go do them.

Z 3:32 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo - There are probably more names in the King James Bible that I don't know than I know. That's my problem, not the puzzles. HAMAN is perfectly crossworthy. However, I firmly believe that anyone who calls any version of the bible "one of the greatest works of English literature" has never tried to read Leviticus. And what is with that guy in the old testament who goes around killing everybody?

I'm still seeing shadows on the wall. I wonder what they mean.

Kim Scudera 3:38 PM  

I figured PILE was a generic term for something that generates current, as French "pile," and Spanish and Italian "pila" for "battery." Why not a nuclear reactor?

RnRGhost57 3:55 PM  

Started this one early a.m. Then went to church and worshipped the One ON HIGH, AMEN. Stopped by the grocery and bought a wheel of EDAM for Sunday REPAST. After a line of BLOW in the LATRINE I finished the puzzle. MANY HAPPY RETURNS.

Mohair Sam 4:00 PM  

@steve J. Amen on MIATAS. I get the feeling crossword constructors are not car people.

lawprof 4:04 PM  

This was a real slog for me. But what the hey, it's Sunday morning and I ain't goin' nowhere. So it took something over an hour not counting a time out for breakfast and listening to a 1941 recording of Andrea Chenier (with Gigli), which my wife bought before we were married. Mind cleared, refreshed, the last 3rd fell quickly.

I kinda liked the theme, maybe 'cuz I'm feeling pretty smug, having filed my taxes over a month ago. All the theme answers are common phrases in non-tax contexts, and tying them in to Tax Day was pretty clever. But maybe I'm just easily amused.

Didn't much care for ILLY, UTNE, EBANKS, AAR, ELHI, ORAN (never know 'til the crosses whether it's Aman, Oman or Oran), LENITY and a few others.

Don't really see the MIATA as a Mustang alternative. I'm in the market for a new car and I've narrowed my choices to a Mazda Miata and a Bugatti Veyron. Makes about the same amount of sense.

retired_chemist 4:48 PM  

@ Gill I P - only in the US AFAIK (maybe Canada too) does SHAG mean what is clued here. IN the UK it means exactly what you think it means. :-)

I was thinking PILE meant hemorrhoid, but apparently only the plural has that connotations.

I would like to retrofit ILLY into my dreck list.

sanfranman59 6:05 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 16%, Easy
Tue 7:19, 8:32, 0.86, 11%, Easy
Wed 8:21, 10:13, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 15:21, 18:26, 0.83, 21%, Easy-Medium
Fri 19:53, 21:24, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Sat 29:07, 27:07, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 30:21, 30:13, 1.00, 55%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:58, 0.95, 21%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:39, 5:11, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Wed 5:22, 6:14, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 9:46, 10:31, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Fri 11:11, 12:39, 0.88, 27%, Easy-Medium
Sat 21:11, 17:16, 1.23, 88%, Challenging
Sun 20:38, 20:43, 1.00, 47%, Medium

ArtO 9:45 PM  

Thought the reveals were terrific. Agree with complaint on MIATA. no car guy would ever consider that option.

Jeffrey Broido 12:45 AM  

Lenity shows up often in the latter travels of Lemuel Gulliver as he describes other systems of government.
Thought THEAS was a crummy entry.

Jenny 8:18 PM  

Thanks, Rex, for the awesome recommendations, both puzzles and books-wise... my local library has "Pregnant Butch" (yay) and I've already put it on hold. I seem to remember your having mentioned Allison Bechdel at some point, but in case not: her GN "Fun Home" is amazing.

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

Why is tax day "the most hated event of the year?" The same people probably hate jury duty. Note that last word: DUTY. Why waste emotion hating your duty? I don't get it. Every post office in the country has lines of ridiculous people at 11:45 PM on the 15th. WHY??? Take a page from Nike, guys, and just. do. it.

Now, as to today's offering: the clue writer must have thought it was still Saturday. Cluing in this one was no less than BRUTAL. I'd cite three or four examples but it's just too painful to revisit. The East-NE almost didn't get done. An agreement is a contract. But 25a would not let that word fit after WITHHOLDING, try as I might. And for the longest time I could not come up with CONSENT. "Where to land for the night" turned out to be a relic from the '60s: CRASHPAD. It was NOT easy--or even medium!--to dig that one up. Then we have "Reactor" for PILE and "Division head?" for LATRiNE. All this stuff is not wrong or unfair...just BRUTAL. No clue about HAMAN; had to run the alphabet a couple times to get HEW for "Conform (to)." Again, not unfair, but OMG.

Now, what in BLAZES is UTNE reader??? That is a perfectly awful entry, to me four random letters as they spilled out of a Scrabble bag. And LENITY?? Who in the last hundred--no, make that TWO hundred years has ever said that? But it's a word, God bless it, so I guess it's OK. MASHUP, however, is NOT, so that, despite the existence of DOZENS of near-flag actions, is the one that gets today's yellow hankie.

I did manage to finish this, but only after a lot of BRILLIANTDEDUCTION--which, BTW, is my favorite theme answer. Medium? Yougottabekidding. If this wasn't a challenge nothing is.

REDBONE a dog? If yo say so. Must be a friendly sort, since I can only hear him saying "Come and get your love." Oh good: another earwig to get rid of.

4's full of 3's, just enough to get me in trouble.

Dirigonzo 3:26 PM  

Maybe it's because I'm a retired tax guy or maybe it's because I solved while sunning, but I liked it. And I'd like to offer an AMEN, Brother! to @spacy's comments about taxes.

ALAS, I finished with the LENITh error so I can't claim total victory but it was still fun and I thought all of the theme answers worked beautifully as clued.

Best I can do is a 6-high straight; is there a consolation prize?

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