Black flower in Dumas title / TUE 2-23-16 / Beijin'g s river basin / Gentlemen Prefer Blondes blonde / One terminus of Japanese bullet train / HMO doctor designations
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski
Relative difficulty: Wednesday (i.e. Challenging *for a Tuesday*)
THEME: LAYER / CAKES (13D: With 51-Down, description of the circled answers?) — types of cakes are "layered" atop one another at three points in the puzzle
- CHEESE (1A) on MARBLE (14A)
- CRUMB (34A) on PATTY (42A) on SHEET (45A)
- CARROT (70A) on SPONGE (73A)
The Hai River (Chinese: 海河; pinyin: Hǎi Hé; literally: "Sea River"), previously called Bai He (Chinese: 白河; pinyin: Bái Hé; literally "White River"; Pei Ho in Western sources), is a river in the People's Republic of China which flows through Beijing and Tianjin before emptying into the Yellow Sea at the Bohai Sea. [...] Hai He is 1,329 kilometres (826 mi) long measured from the longest tributary. However, the Hai He is only around 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Tianjin to its estuary. Its basin has an area of approximately 319,000 km2 (123,000 sq mi). Its annual flow is only half that of the Yellow River, or one-thirtieth that of the Yangtze River. (wikipedia)
• • •LAYER / CAKES. Everything is defensible, but much of it is sub-smooth. Not surprisingly, many of my struggles were right around the "layers." Didn't know HAI, but didn't struggle much there either, as all the surrounding stuff was easy enough, but PCPS kind of killed me, as I don't really know that term. Physician ... something something? *Oh*, that's short for Primary Care Physician??? Wow. Did not know that. NYT has never used this clue for PCPS. They use plural of the drug PCP, which is of course worse. The moral here, I think, is that PCPS is not great fill. Avoid. Anyway, between that and LORELEI (who what what?) and "outie or INNIE?" and a state nickname I've never heard of (LITTLE RHODY?) and NO SOAP (!?) (I had NO SALE) and BUS MAPS (which is a fine answer, but hard to get at from simple clue, 58A: Aids for some urban commuters), I was solidly into a normal Wednesday solving time. The puzzle felt old in its frame of reference (highly so)—both old-fashioned in fill (so much Latin... and other foreignisms ... and EERO and EOCENE etc.) and older-skewing in its cultural frame of reference (NO SOAP!)—but it was still mostly a pleasure to solve.
Oh, I left out the OTO-for-UTE mistake I made at the heart of the puzzle. Honestly, this is a no-brainer Wednesday, concept and all. Dumas title? Black TULIP? Loved the clue on KLEPTOMANIA (11D: Problem with lifting?), but it was definitely another element that added time. Oh well. This is a pleasant, admirable Wednesday puzzle. I'll just leave it at that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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