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IT'S TAXING

New York Times, Sunday, April 13, 2014

Author: Dan Schoenholz
Editor: Will Shortz
Dan Schoenholz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
215/5/20109/14/20160
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9244200
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1.63220

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes: One of the things I enjoy about constructing is finding ways to weave my personal interests into my puzzles. One was named after the German city where I lived for a time ('A Whiff of Cologne'); another ... more
Dan Schoenholz notes: One of the things I enjoy about constructing is finding ways to weave my personal interests into my puzzles. One was named after the German city where I lived for a time ("A Whiff of Cologne"); another included my favorite musical artist, John Hiatt, as an entry for the first time ever in the New York Times; and so on.

Today's puzzle is in the same vein: it's a 21 x 21 tribute to my brother, Mike, a CPA who disappears around February 15th every year, only to re-emerge in mid-April after having helped his many clients pick their way through the complicated puzzle that is our tax code. Congrats, Mike, on making it through another tax season!

Jeff Chen notes: Ah, a puzzle about taxes! As we've already established I'm an odd duck, it won't surprise you to hear that I'm a huge fan of doing my taxes. Trying to pull levers throughout the year to figure out how we can lower ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Ah, a puzzle about taxes! As we've already established I'm an odd duck, it won't surprise you to hear that I'm a huge fan of doing my taxes. Trying to pull levers throughout the year to figure out how we can lower our tax burden, from timing our charitable donations to mutual funds vs. ETFs to deferring vs. realizing carry-forwards, is one of my many joys in life.

I like the timing of the puzzle, just before tax day (although most everyone else would probably appreciate it more right after the relief of April 15 passing). I also like Dan's wacky interpretations of snappy phrases. MANY HAPPY RETURNS is one I've heard before in regard to taxes, but TABLE FOR TWO is a beautiful one, as it relates to tax tables for a married couple vs. a single filer. BRILLIANT DEDUCTION is also, well, brilliant, making me laugh. The others, WITHHOLDING CONSENT and SCHEDULE CHANGE, felt a little too literal to be fun for me, reminding me of unpleasantries from past tax years. It's often no fun for anyone when the IRS issues a SCHEDULE CHANGE announcement, for example. Especially those of us who like our schedules to stay constant, thank you very much!

Today's layout provides for a discussion on themer placement. Note how Dan's first entry is in row 4, not row 3 like most Sunday puzzles. That's because it's a bit too long to put in row 3 — no good, because that would necessitate a giant block of black squares in the NW corner. But having the first themer in row 4 makes the overall spacing more difficult than normal. Those first three themers are separated by just one row each (in rows 4, 6, 8). Anytime you can place two rows of space (instead of one) in between themers it's SO much easier.

Notice the difficulty in those overlapped areas. We see ORY and RESHAPE in one overlap, ELL and the plural UGHS in another, RIGGER in another. Creating better spacing could have reduced this effect. Because there is flexibility in which themer goes first, something else like MANY HAPPY RETURNS could have been placed in row 3, with likely cleaner effect.

Some really nice stuff in the fill though. I love seeing SEGWAYs around town (GOB Bluth fan, anyone?), CRASHPAD (a must for highball bouldering), and a super-hard to parse BE A PAL. Along with those nice NW and SE corners full of ART GLASS, HELLIONS and TELETHON, these types of entries did help enhance my solve.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS in a few days, everyone! Go chase down that last BRILLIANT DEDUCTION.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,532
Across Down
1. Crazy places : ZOOS
5. Supply (with) : ARM
8. Yogi in the New Jersey Hall of Fame : BERRA
13. Give up on : SCRAP
18. Neutral zone, say : SAFEAREA
20. Geneva's ___ des Nations : PALAIS
21. It's organized in a family : CRIME
22. Fragile decoration : ARTGLASS
23. Elevated : ONHIGH
24. Hangovers at home? : EAVES
25. Agreement for an amount to be taken from one's salary? : WITHHOLDINGCONSENT
28. Samoan capital : APIA
31. Glow : AURA
32. Soil : EARTH
33. What C.P.A.'s wish for their clients? : MANYHAPPYRETURNS
39. Reactor : PILE
43. For : PRO
44. "We shun it ___ it comes": Dickinson : ERE
45. Guest book, e.g. : LOG
46. Purim villain : HAMAN
47. First name of the first female Supreme Court justice : SANDRA
49. C.P.A.'s advice for lowering future-year liabilities? : ROLLTHECREDITS
55. Serious overcharging : ROBBERY
57. Place in trust : ESCROW
58. Tony-winning Robert Morse role : TRU
59. Fast : RAPID
62. European wheels? : EDAMS
64. Alley ___ : OOP
65. Match : PAIR
66. Ample, informally : ENUF
67. Chart used to calculate a married couple's taxes? : TABLEFORTWO
70. ___ Reader : UTNE
71. Have a series of sudden inspirations? : PANT
72. General mailing address?: Abbr. : APO
73. Night hunter : ORION
74. Let loose : FREED
75. What pop-ups do : ARC
76. Websites of interest? : EBANKS
79. First name among Mouseketeers : ANNETTE
81. I.R.S. update? : SCHEDULECHANGE
84. Soccer team : ELEVEN
88. Three-time '70s World Series champs : THEAS
89. Alpine stream : AAR
90. Milk : USE
91. Halves of zygotes : OVA
92. GPS component: Abbr. : SYST
93. Last-minute way to reduce tax for a desperate filer? : EMERGENCYSHELTER
100. Deadline time appropriate to this puzzle : APRIL
102. "Sad to say ..." : ALAS
103. Choice word? : EENY
104. C.P.A.'s masterstroke? : BRILLIANTDEDUCTION
112. "Vive ___!" : LEROI
113. South American land : TIERRA
114. Troublemakers : HELLIONS
118. Triatomic oxygen molecule : OZONE
119. Strengthen : ANNEAL
120. Certain fund-raiser : TELETHON
121. Ebbed : WANED
122. Certain tracks : SONGS
123. Foxy : SLY
124. Wail : YOWL
1. When repeated, one of the Gabors : ZSA
2. Galley sight : OAR
3. Time and again : OFT
4. Modern two-wheeler : SEGWAY
5. "How now! ___?": Hamlet : ARAT
6. Alter, as a form : RESHAPE
7. Digital olio : MASHUP
8. Tour group? : BAND
9. K-12 : ELHI
10. Parade spoiler : RAIN
11. Sailor, sometimes : RIGGER
12. Waste place : ASHCAN
13. Perfume : SCENT
14. Where to land for the night : CRASHPAD
15. Break apart : RIVE
16. "___, brother!" : AMEN
17. Nudnik : PEST
19. "Aladdin" prince : ALI
20. Like some opposites : POLAR
26. Suffix with deposit : ORY
27. Choice words : ORS
28. Hypes (up) : AMPS
29. Chute opener? : PARA
30. Hip to : INON
34. Judean ruler : HEROD
35. 19-Down, e.g. : ARAB
36. Wing : ELL
37. Gift for many a PBS donor : TOTE
38. Lousy "reviews" : UGHS
40. Ape : IMITATE
41. Division head? : LATRINE
42. Double-checked, e.g. : ENSURED
46. Conform (to) : HEW
48. Go with the flow : DRIFT
49. Breed of hunting dog : REDBONE
50. Like some traditions : ORAL
51. ___ disease : LYME
52. Transition area from deciduous to evergreen, e.g. : ECOTONE
53. ___ Plaza (hotel chain) : CROWNE
54. El ___ (cheap cigar, slangily) : ROPO
56. "Do me one favor ..." : BEAPAL
59. Important parts of Thanksgiving and Easter : REPASTS
60. "There is no greater evil than ___": "Antigone" : ANARCHY
61. They might be pulled : PUNCHES
63. Airport on a bay, for short : SFO
65. Food processor setting : PUREE
67. Classic perfume : TABU
68. Algerian port : ORAN
69. Call up : RING
74. Army base near Petersburg, Va. : FTLEE
76. S.A.S.E. recipients : EDS
77. 1980s Chrysler offering : KCAR
78. Retrieve and throw back, in baseball practice : SHAG
80. Syndicated radio host John : TESH
82. What to "never" do, according to the title of a 2005 best seller : EATALONE
83. Exist : ARE
85. Raise one's hand, say : VOTE
86. Tied up : EVEN
87. ___ a one : NARY
90. Co. with the longtime stock symbol "X" : USSTEEL
93. Verdi's "___ tu" : ERI
94. Alternatives to Mustangs : MIATAS
95. Pacific current event? : ELNINO
96. 2008 Olympic tennis gold medalist : NADAL
97. Actor Gulager of old TV : CLU
98. Settings for "Skyfall" and "Casino Royale" : YACHTS
99. Laxness : LENITY
101. Engaged in, as a trade : PLIED
104. Sudden misfortune : BLOW
105. Shah ___ Pahlavi : REZA
106. Wood alternative : IRON
107. Where Davy Crockett was born: Abbr. : TENN
108. Last little bit : DREG
109. Memorable times : ERAS
110. In a bad way : ILLY
111. "Bravo!" : OLE
115. Cry of discovery : OHO
116. Partner of again : NOW
117. ___ Digital Short : SNL

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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