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

Theme answers:
  • CHEESE (1A) on MARBLE (14A)
  • CRUMB (34A) on PATTY (42A) on SHEET (45A)
  • CARROT (70A) on SPONGE (73A)
Word of the Day: HAI (2D: Beijing's river basin) —
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)
• • •
A nifty little theme idea, but I have no idea why this played on a Tuesday. I was a full minute (i.e. a lifetime, over my normal Tuesday time). I almost never encounter answers I have no familiarity with on Tuesdays, and today there were a good handful. Plus the cluing was just vague enough to make me have to work harder than normal to finish this. Not surprisingly, the iffiest parts of the grid are right through the 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

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 7:10 AM  

Ok – I have to say it – this just takes the cake. What a delight.

Rex – me, too, on “oto” first.

I knew SALVO and NO SOAP from solving. Got LITTLE RHODY from the crosses, finally seeing that O.

I'm decidedly not a literalist when it comes to interpreting reveals. Or maybe I am. Hmm. All the themers work for me because they are all ____ CAKE, and they're layered. I'm wondering if some will give SHEET and even PATTY the side-eye. Think Liz played around with SHORT there for SHEET?

SKULK is a great word. So is TRIUMPH.

Fortunately, one of my best-ever favorite novels is The Metamorphosis, so 40D was one of my first entries. Poor guy. I'm learning that my students like making pictures to display in the hall. Last month we had their versions of "Bed Bugs," all featuring SAMSA.

Liz oozes class and sophistication. She’s a musician, she bakes, she calligraphyizes. So I never considered anything but FOUL UP for F _ _ _ UP.

Four excellent clues – those for EDDY, DUG, KLEPTOMANIA, and UMPS.

Could HAI have been cross-referenced with OSAKA? Yes.

I dug this one.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

BUS MAPS are for urban tourists, not urban commuters (who likely know the route).

seanm 7:20 AM  

I'm confused as to how TENPINS agrees in tense with Bowling. stumped for the longest time looking at __soap and te____

Lewis 7:22 AM  

Liz cooked up a terrific Tuesday here. It felt like she took care with every clue. I especially liked the clues for CHEESE, DUG, UMPS, KLEPTOMANIA and EDDY. I got battered by FOULUPS -- I wanted "foibles". And there are answers that add spark: SKULK, RAHRAH (which I especially like, since it's HAR HAR backward), NOSOAP, TENPINS, and KLEPTOMANIA.

I like the two flowers crossing, and to add to the cakes, Liz also threw in a PIE. I was thinking PATTY was an outlier, but I see it is a real type of cake. This puzzle came out just right, and Tuesday is a hard day, apparently, to get just right -- let's put some candles in this thing and celebrate!

GILL I. 7:29 AM  

Pretty clever LAYER CAKES. I liked that PATTY is under CRUMB (Mr. Crumb?) and on top of SHEET.
First Tuesday in ages that I enjoyed, even with the LALA UNUM ULNA PECS PIE fill. NO SOAP reminded me (for some strange reason) of the soup nazi.
Poor Luis VUITTON and his empire.... I remember when the likes of Jane Fonda and all the Kardashians would only travel with his signature luggage. You could find the exact replica at your nearest flea market thank you very much. Of course it looked cheap but hey....who cared. If someone ever gives me a LV whatever, I will sell it on eBay and donate the proceeds to the SPCA.
I am an INNIE type of person and my favorite CAKE is chocolate CHEESE.
Nice and enjoyable ECG - as usual!

chefbea 7:34 AM  

What a yummy puzzle..What's not to like?? And we also have PIE in there. Thank you Elizabeth Gorski.

Hand up for loving the clue for Kleptomania!!!

Old Lady 7:48 AM  

On PCPS, to me that is Primary Care Provider, as nurse practitioners are increasingly (and nicely) filling that role. This puzzle hummed along for me. LITTLE RHODY easy for a New Englander. I think an urban commuter would not need BUSMAPS, as they normally follow the same route. An urban tourist, on the other hand, would need one, but the cling would be too verbose. Liked this puzzle.

George Barany 7:56 AM  

@Rex, I'm not even in the same order of magnitude as you in terms of solving speed, but if you think this is a Wednesday masquerading as a Tuesday, that's consistent with my assessment of yesterday's being a Tuesday masquerading as a Wednesday.

I thought that @Liz Gorski's EDDY clue was fantastic ... and timeless. As to your comment about a dated feel, the MITT clue is a give-away for this puzzle having sat in the New York Times "accepted and to be published" pile for several years.

For a nostalgic politically themed crossword, click here, and for up-to-the-moment, click here and here. Not for the faint-hearted ...

Dorothy Biggs 8:00 AM  

It wasn't all that hard for me today. Given my previous times, I was dead center between my best time and my average time.

Isn't HAI usually clued as how one says "yes" in Japan? This kind of HAI was completely unknown to me.

I don't know why, but I liked all the Ks in the grid today. K doesn't seem to get much respect compared to your Xs, Zs, or Qs. SKULK, KLEPTOMANIA, PLUNK, and KAOS were cool with me.

MOO v. Low is another one of those Ural/Aral toss ups. You just never know which one it might be.

Pretty much everything I know about the human skeleton (especially arm and leg bones) I know from xwords.

jberg 8:15 AM  

I was going to say it was easy -- but I just noticed that instead of LORELEI I had LOREnEI, somehow thinking that "skunking around in the bushes" was a thing. So I guess it was harder than I had thought.

I did like the bonus dessert at 23D.

Hungry Mother 8:17 AM  

Almost a DNF for me, but definitely Wednesday level.

kitshef 8:26 AM  

Yes, much harder than a normal Tuesday, starting off with the plEase/CHEESE misdirect. Then the unknowns - HAI, SKIL, PCPS. And I'm surprised @Rex did not complain about 'dated' fill: LORELOEI, KAOS, ARNIE - all could have been in a puzzle fifty year ago - EONS ago, in the EOCENE.

Then you got your passel of abbreviations: CMD, PDA, PCPS, MTETNA, ERS, SYS.

And pairs of similar things: LALA and RAH RAH, OMNIA and UNUM, SUD and ETE.

Plus throw in a RRN (III).

And yet ... still enjoyed it, because the theme worked.

L 8:35 AM  

DNF on a Tuesday?!? I'm losing it. LITTLE RHODY is ridiculous. On any day.

jberg 8:43 AM  

I would have said it was easier than that, but I finished with a glaring error, SKUnK for SKULK. What was I thinking!

I did like the bonus desser at 23A.

Hartley70 8:48 AM  

Pay attention Rex!

Never heard of LITTLERHODY? Why I mentioned that nickname right here in a comment just last week when I was discussing CURTSCHILLING and the 70 million dollar loan from the state of RI. I bet @r.alphbunker got it right.

Once seen, who could forget the gorgeous LORELEI?

I'm crazy for CAKE so this puzzle was a delightful reminder of all I am missing since I began this miserable diet. Hmmm, SPONGE!

The only answer I didn't know at all was HAI, easily guessed. I found this perfectly placed in the week and very smooth. It was just a yummy Tuesday!

Sir Hillary 9:01 AM  

Seeing an ECG byline always makes me smile, so I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, this was a rare disappointment. While the theme is very clever and the longer fill is quite good, the short junk overshadowed all of that today. PCPS and ERS, LAN and SYS, UNUM and OMNIA, CMD and PDA, SUD and ETE, WSW and AKA and III -- it was all too much today.

Z 9:01 AM  

What Rex said. I like all the cakes, reminds me of a Cosby bit (Is it too soon to separate the man from his art? Yes? Okay - nevermind). Smooth Wednesday solve. Fun little tussle. III? I'll refrain from my usual rant.

PPP Analysis
* some of these could have been clued differently

LORELEI (I do love the classical reference)
Big Mac clue*
Blackberry clue*
Sam I AM*
Dumas title*

18/78, or 23%, which is the low end so far. BUT different cluing and this could have had a PPP score of 15%. The pop culture clues for MITT and TULIP add to the educated feel of the puzzle (along with a little Latin), but why not go vehicular on UTE or teen lust on PDA? And if you're going to go PPP for PATTY why McDonalds? Why not Hearst or Duke or Peppermint or get grungy with Patty Schemel.

RooMonster 9:11 AM  

Hey All !
Late Rex day today!
I think the outlier today is PATTY, because all the other ones are actually CAKES that are eatable (yes that's a real word, look it up :-) ), but I get the fact that they are types of CAKES that are LAYERed in the grid. Still...

Agree with Mr. Rex on the difficulty. For some reason, the entire W was not easy. I had the E done, and staring at The Wild White West for a while. Finally gave in to NOSOAP and TENPINS (ugly POC, that), which opened up that area, and managed to finish. SUD a WOE, but very fun clue on KLEPTOMANIA. Other fun clues for DUG, UMPS, and SKULK a cool word visually.

I always get shaded squares on the NYT puz site, much better than circles! Interesting grid design, some dreck, but overall nice. Always like a Liz puz.


thfenn 9:34 AM  

Great puzzle. Longer to solve than my average, but fun. Didn't get LAYER CAKES until I had all the cakes filled in. LEGO before LALA and HAIL before UNUM gave me pause in the east, and I still have no idea how NOSOAP is "can't do it", and didn't know SAMSA, but enjoyed the theme, and cluing for UMPS, KAOS, EDDY, SKULK, KLEPTOMANIA...

Completing it felt like a TRIUMPH, Tuesday or otherwise, so this was a fun one.

Unknown 9:37 AM  

While all of the shaded areas are cakes, they are not layer cakes. Layer cakes have two or more layers, as in one on top of the other!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 AM  

Good one! And for this certifiable Old Guy, everything very comfortable.

@seanm - "Bowling" and "TENPINS" are both the names of very similar games. You could have a bowling champion or a tenpins champion, etc.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Should every puzzle be of medium difficulty?

Nancy 10:00 AM  

I wish all Tuesdays could be this challenging and this much fun. There was actually a moment where I thought: Is this going to be the first Tuesday I don't finish? But I guessed at LALA land, the deceptively clued UMPS came to me, and then the delightful KLEPTOMANIA. Yes, this was easy in certain sections, but there was plenty to keep me...puzzled. Very nice job.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Piece of Cake! Delicious! At first confusled (what do y'all call it?) had CINNAMON for CARNATION POUND for CRUMB till I realized they had to be layer cakes--but wait! These are not really layer cakes at al??

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

@seanm ten pins and bowling are both names of the same game. I had no snap for cant do it so dnf. Challenging fun puzzle.

kitshef 10:54 AM  

Wanted to thank @Z for his recent PPP analyses. Interesting stuff.

Greg 10:57 AM  

I liked it, but it did feel more like a Wed than a Tues. DISBAR is not that hard, but crossing it with CMD, HAI and EERO? Yeesh.

mac 10:58 AM  

Good but tough Tuesday; "no soap" almost caused a DNF. Salvo and triumph are beautiful.

Joseph Michael 11:00 AM  

Z, like you, I am always aware of how many proper nouns appear in a puzzle, but could you please explain the term "PPP Analysis"?

Unknown 11:02 AM  

"While all of the shaded areas are cakes, they are not layer cakes. Layer cakes have two or more layers, as in one on top of the other!"

Look very carefully at those shaded areas. . .

They're layers composed of kinds of cakes.

"I'm confused as to how TENPINS agrees in tense with Bowling"
They're both names of a game. (Both are nouns--and neither has tense.) Similarly, skiing and tennis are both names of sports.

It played like an easier-than-normal Tuesday for me. I'm a midwesterner, but I plunked in LITTLERHODY after getting the initial L. The whole puzzle fell like that.

Unknown 11:08 AM  

A TRIUMPH with only a corrected, one-letter FOULUP.

Thought it somewhat tough but doable and very nicely done, yummm (noting the omission of fruit cake...and admitting I actualy like them).

A bunch of meaningless odds and ends --

SKULK – great word

LORELIE (with a long “I”) PIE has a nice ring to it amongst the CAKES.

PCP (angel dust) can send you to LALA land.

I noticed that WADES is a 2 over 3 “layer” of keyboard keys. Aren’t you glad you asked?

Years ago, I got food poisoning from some carne ASADSA in Guatemala.

I own a SKIL saw, lived in LITTLE RHODY while in the navy, am lousy at TEN PINs, rode the bullet train to OSAKA, skied SLALOM (lousy at that also), and send BYTEs over my home LAN.

Speaking of hidden gems in puzzles, which I wasn't...but continuing on --

Former NYT food editor Craig Claiborne’s “Cooking with Herbs and Spices” has a chapter on nutmeg. In it he included an “incredible” eggNOG recipe.

With Mr. Claiborne's intro:

“The following is one of the most incredible of drinks, one of the richest of eggnogs. Many people who regard eggnogs as a creation of the Borgias can tolerate this one. It is the recipe of Blanche Knopf, who attributes it to John Kilar.”

Ingredients for 24 / 4-oz servings

12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 quart milk
1 (26 oz) bottle cognac, bourbon, or 1 (26 oz) bottle rye whiskey
1 cup dark Jamaican rum
1 quart heavy cream, whipped
1 orange
1 lemon
ground nutmeg


1. Combine the egg yolks and sugar and beat to the ribbon stage, which is to say until lemon colored and quite thick.
2. Stir in the milk and spirits.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold inches.
4. Chill in the refrigerator four hours or (better over night)
5. Whip the cream and fold it into the eggnog.
6. Meanwhile, carefully peel the orange, discarding the white pulp but reserving the extreme outer rind.
Cut this rind into tiny, needle like strips.
7. Grate the lemon rind.
8. Stir both the orange and lemon rind into the eggnog .
[I prefer to let all this “sit” for another several hours]

Then --
9.Grate fresh nutmeg on each serving.

In the context of the book #9 is what makes the entire recipe worthy of inclusion: it is a nutmeg recipe. This is sort of like finding an incredible, relatively complex birthday cake recipe in a book about candles, included because you can put candles on it.

Mr. Claiborne bequeathed his estate to the CIA (no he wasn't into spies...the culinary school). When located in New Haven many years ago, students proudly wore C.I.A. sweats and tees. It was also a plus for a particular small, short-order eatery I frequented where some of these chefs in the making had jobs. They applied their well-learned culinary skills to making great eggs and burgers. Digressing back (can one do that?) to the puzzle: You know, those things made from some of the animals that go MOO?


Joseph Michael 11:08 AM  

A puzzle for Marie Antoinette. Theme was neither great nor awful, but I like the fact that this was a little harder than the usual Tuesday. Some nice cluing, too, such as that for DUG, UMPS, and EDDY which otherwise would have been lackluster. Overall a good solve.

jae 11:10 AM  

I too agree with the medium Wed. difficulty level.

Tried BUSpAsS before MAPS.

Stuff I didn't know: HAI, TULIP (as clued), PCPS.

Stuff I did know but forgot: SAMSA, UNUM

Nice challenge with a very clever theme, liked it.

AnonyMatrix 11:20 AM  

@Z, why don't you ease up on the PostPartumProvocatouring? Let's find you another hobbyhorse to ride into the sunset

chefbea 11:24 AM  

@unknown...but the names of the cakes are layered!!!

RooMonster 11:33 AM  

Wow, must'nt have been awake when I commented before! I meant the E was the hard part! Got the W easily, E difficult. Crazy. Still haven't had my coffee yet...

And I forgot the best clue, on EDDY. I'll remember that one.

*Pay no attention to the non making sense post above* :-)


Fred O'Neal 11:36 AM  

Ugh unknown @9:37. The ANSWERS are layered, NOT the CAKES. Just. Ugh.
Otherwise, I am surprised that Rex gave a pass to a puzzle with this much horrendous crap fill. He is nothing if not inconsistent.

Andrew Heinegg 11:47 AM  

This was an almost perfect puzzle in my estimation. Unlike Rex, I thought the puzzle was very fresh and contemporary without asking me to come up with the name of some current but obscure to me music person. As Mr. Barany wrote, maybe the best clue ever for eddy since you have to have some short fill for a Tuesday. Ditto for kleptomania; anonymous at 7:12 correctly points out that a commuter would not have a bus map. That's a tourist tool. I also got held up with the bowling-tenpins singular to plural conversion, especially with it crossing Samsa, a character unknown or perhaps unremembered by me. But, those are nits. The overall flow and interest to the puzzle was quite lovely. I liked finding out another nickname for R.I., trivial as that might be.

Marymom 12:35 PM  

My bad for not knowing that 40D was Samsa and entered Sassa instead due to 46A clue "One for Caesar?" In Latin "one" is a declined adjective. "Unus" is the male gender of one. So unless Caesar was neutered, one for Caesar should be unus.

Doc John 12:51 PM  

Layer Cake

Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  


* 23 weejects (Just want to say HAI, while I'm here.)
* LAYERs. (quad stax and trip stax of weejects).
* 8 U's (Snowman, in U-preservationists' parlance.) Sweet.
* Cake. (Not many theme-worthy cakes that start with a vowel?)
* Rodeo.

Thanx, Ms. Gorski. (Only thing: Carrot cake. ptui.)



Unknown 1:02 PM  

Who knew?

Doing a little research as to whether MOO cows are used for hamburger (ground) meat and they are, though not early as much as that from a beef cattle. Dairy cow meat is usually assumed a lower grade of meat. However, says a couple of cattle/dairy farmers, --

"We eat dairy cow ground beef and filets. It is the best tasting beef in the world."

"Dairy cow fillets are the best! We ALWAYS kept the tenderloin of dairy cattle we harvested."


Z 1:12 PM  

I'm confused by the confusion over TEN PINS. @Roo, this is not a POC, the game is TEN PINS or NINE PINS, both are "bowling." Likewise @seanm, two nouns, so there is no tense that needs agreement. If one is being wordy one would say "ten-pin bowling," but that seems excessively formal and a little ugly IMHO. and then there's Canada.

old timer 1:14 PM  

SAMSA/Sassa. UNUM/unus -- Natick for me. I wrote in unus, finally changed it to UNUM, because e pluribus. I got the trick meaning of "layer" after coming here, but already was wondering if a sheet cake is a layer cake. Actually, I think a MARBLE cake is usually layered, but CHEESE cakes usually aren't.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

A slow Tuesday for me, but fun. Thinking of Mephistopheles instead of 'The Metamorphosis' gave me SAtan in 40D until UNUM and OSAKA made me squint at that one again. And I PLUNKed in KAto at 60A first, Get Smart not being any more familiar to me than the Green Hornet is.

I'm more of a PIE person than CAKE, but I always love the SHEET CAKES at graduations or weddings as long as I can get the corner piece with the mounds of frosting. I tried to see if the PATTY (or PAT-a-) CAKE had a true CAKE component but NO SOAP - just kept tripping over the game/rhyme words. I first thought LITTLE RHODY was new to me but @Hartley's reminder of her recent comment brought it back. No promises that I won't forget again.

Thanks ECG, for this TRIUMPH of a Tuesday puzzle.

puzzle hoarder 1:26 PM  

I agree with the challenging rating. This was a big step up from Monday's puzzle. There were enough unfamiliar answers to bog things down a little. SAMSA and LORELEI were the main one's. I worked around HAI without giving it a second thought.
Getting PIE made 11D obvious. That K revealed SKIL. 26D was a little tricky but the crosses confirmed RHODY.
My print out from the NYT website had no circles and the shading is virtually invisible.
I don't think having those things would have made much difference. If it added to the difficulty all the better. My compliments to the constructor for a very satisfying puzzle.

Proud Mamma 1:40 PM  

What? I didnt even consider looking up any clue, for me this was an easy Tuesday. And I am far from a pro. As for PCP, Rex, youre just wrong here. Its a very common term. Apparently you have a significant other who deals with your health insurance.

Eocene, salvo, skil and Little Rhody I got from crosses. i didnt love the cluing and i think commuters dont need bus maps (being regulars), tourists do. Are patty cakes really cakes? I thought it was a game. The rest are all real cake varieties that can be layered, so I dont like patty.

Kinda boring.

Cassieopia 1:48 PM  

Loved every second of this creative and delicious puzzle! Was especially pleased at LORELEI when I had started with Marilyn, which also fits. And how CHEESEcake at this bar (DISBAR) SLALOMS over to her! So beautifully crafted! More cake, please?

Z 1:51 PM  

@kitshef and @Joseph Michael - The impetus for my checking on this was the discussion around the 2/13 puzzle. I thought others might be interested besides myself. "PPP" is shorthand for Pop culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns. Why these and not foreign words, RRN, or other ese? Because these three categories of answers seem to generate very negative reactions when they appear in too high of a concentration.

The theory I'm formulating is that when PPP gets to be around ⅓ of the puzzle the likelihood that some section of the puzzle will frustrate some subset of solvers as a result of PPP, instead of some puzzling aspect, is greatly increased. At ¼ of the puzzle there seems to be enough other ways to gain traction that PPP is merely irksome.

BTW - @Tita, @OISK, and @Nancy - I looked closely at that 2/13 puzzle. It is, in fact, over 33%. Which just goes to show that if PPP is in one's wheelhouse, like that puzzle was for me, one barely notices the PPP. As I recall, I thought there were only 7 or 8 such clues/answers.

Leapfinger 2:17 PM  

@Chuck McG, we must have been in New Haven at the same time (early 70s), because I also remember the CIA students' practice eater -- the place, but not the name.

So I was cheerfully filling circles with CAKES and about halfway through I looked around, checked there were no 4-circle slots and thought : "Hah! No SOAP!". Very pleased with my observation, only to find minutes later that La Gorski had cleverly worked that into the grid herself. I spose had it been possible, we would have had the YELLOW instead of the HAI River. YELLOWCAKE is 70-90% U3O8 (triuraniumoctoxide); fortunately, the grid count is U-8, O-11, or I would've had to swallow my tongue. Still, there's not much Liz can't pull off.

'Characters in a wanted poster' for AKA is one of several pretty tricky clues for a Tuesday

Gregor 'Kafka' kept getting in the way of SAMSA; at least I knew for sure it wasn't SesSA.

I once tried to make a SHEET CAKE but it didn't come out too well; I probably should have used a higher thread count.

Any KLEPTOMANIAc will tell you it takes SKIL to Stihl a chainsaw.

I'd like to take it up with whoever clued EDDY with 'It's a small whirl after all' as the sadist personally responsible for my persistent earworm. Sorry, but no amount of Judy Carne ASADA meets my minimum RDA for that kind of abuse. What a great clue!!

Finally, let me be the 14th to say that TENPINS is a form of bowling (both being nouns); at least one dictionary specifies the TENPINS takes the singular verb form, so is Not a POC.


PS: If I'm feeling very Mea Culpa later on, I'll come back to admit what BUSpass led me to do with OMNIA. I had quite a rant going on there.

kozmikvoid 2:27 PM  

Late to the game but felt I had to comment for the bowling clue, as rare (though less so lately) as they are. Really? I mean, really??!!! TENPINS is the answer to the clue Bowling??? That is just awfulness wrapped up in a nice little bow. I have bowled my entire life...not once has it ever been referred to as ten pins. Ten pin is actually a type of bowling (as opposed to duckpin, candlepin, etc). But ten pins is in no way, shape or form an acceptable answer to that clue. It is the exact same thing as "GLOVE" being an answer to the clue "Baseball."

Other than that complete trainwreck of an answer, this was pretty fun.

Martel Moopsbane 2:36 PM  

I have to agree with unknown. The revealer implies that each named cake is itself a LAYER CAKE. "LAYERed CAKES" would have been a more accurate revealer.

Someone left the cake out in the rain.

Kimberly 2:47 PM  

Loved "it's a small whirl after all." Loved it. Every puzzle should have that one inane, silly, eye-roll-worthy giggle moment, and this one was cute and perfect. I'm sure a lot of people dislike those but I really love them. What's better than having a smile with your crossword?

Chronic dnfer 2:51 PM  

40 mins. I took my time because it's snowing out. I was sure the no soap crossing Eocene was going to be my dnf. Instead it was at lorelee. I chalk it up as a victory. Shouldn't 47a be a plural?

Unknown 3:06 PM  

Wonderful puzzle. I liked the theme, liked the interesting arrangement of theme answers, liked the longer fill, and loved some of the clues.

I did not know LITTLE RHODY, but it was easy to infer from the crosses. Held my breath after I entered my final letter, the O in the NO SOAP/EOCENE crossing. I checked with a pair of friends afterwards, and one of them had heard of NO SOAP.

As others have already mentioned, the clues for EDDY and KLEPTOMANIA were outstanding. That clue for EDDY made the puzzle worthwhile all by itself.

Among proper names, I liked SAMSA and KAOS.

This has been a great start to the week. The puzzles seem to be placed a day early (i.e. Monday's felt like a Tuesday, Tuesday's felt like a Wednesday), which makes me wonder if Thursday's puzzle will be extra tricky.

jcj 3:52 PM  

The website offered up the Tuesday, April 11 1995 puzzle as "today's puzzle" so I was greatly confused after completing it and came here. I was thinking the puzzle felt dated (a BlackBerry is a PDA?) and was expecting a rant in this vein from Rex.

Instead I had the theme revealed to me before doing the actual puzzle. Oh well.

Mohair Sam 3:58 PM  

Delightful Tuesday, played medium here. Probably because we guessed SKIL off SUD and got KLEPTOMANIA off that K (on your wave length today Liz Gorski, helluva clue), that followed quickly by LITTLERHODY off SALVO's "L" (surprised so few people know that one). Things fell quickly with that head start. We did have a little hold up with the perfunctory oTo/UTE error.

We print out the puzzle in with a light gray instead of black to save ink, hence the shaded (or circled in some formats) squares left us with a huge blot on our first pass. How 'bout a rule that directional clues like WSW be restricted to the USA on Mondays and Tuesdays? BUSpasS before BUSMAPS, commuters don't need MAPS as @Old Lady said above.

@Rex - I'm betting Philip Marlowe used the term NO SOAP more than once or twice. I'm betting you've seen it.

Z 4:21 PM  

Amazing what you find when you google before you speak. Things like tons of recipes for PATTY cake and that TEN-PIN Bowling is a thing.

RooMonster 8:25 PM  

Heh @Z, those wacky Canadians! And I'm humbled at learning he term TEN PINS. The stuff these crosswords teach ya...


Joseph Michael 9:04 PM  

@Z - Thanks for the explanation. I figured it was something like that and I agree

chefwen 9:15 PM  

I felt right at home and in my kitchen doing this delightful puzzle. Cranked out three Mango Cheesecakes in this last week alone, the lady just keeps ordering them. Love it!

My only problem area was around the EOCENE/NO SOAP area. For some reason couldn't remember Eocene and slapped an N where the O belonged. That gave me NO SNAP which, at the time seemed O.K. OOPS! and that resorted in a DNF Tuesday.

Thank you Liz for another tasty and fun puzzle.

Z 12:29 AM  

@Roo - I've actually played Five-Pin, though it has been years. Fun. I think most Canadian Commentariat members reside in SyndieLand, so they'll probably speak up in five weeks.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I did the same

Burma Shave 9:11 AM  


yet she ASKSAFTER WAGES she SAYS I should pay her.
ISAID, “NOSOAP, ERN your keep and kiss my TULIPs.”
So with SKIL ‘twixt the SHEETs IAM going to LAYER.


rondo 9:52 AM  

Challenging? Hardly. I went through this puz as quickly as I could read the clues and PLUNK down answers – for sure less than 15 minutes, don’t know exactly since I don’t care about speed. Didn’t know SAMSA, but that cured itself.

The missus would go into shock if there was NOSOAP around. Forget about camping. And her new bag is no VUITTON, but it is Ralph Lauren.

LORELEI will ERN yeah bay today SAYS I. CHEESE CAKES come to mind.

Like ISAID, I never even considered this puz as being difficult, even for a Tuesday. No FOULUPS on pretty decent puz.

spacecraft 10:37 AM  

I think I gained ten pounds just doing this puzzle. As if all the CAKES weren't enough, I had to have some PIE, too!

What many said about the day of appearance. For a while there I was convinced I'd slept two whole days (I put this on a Thursday). Very much I did not know--and not just the uber-obscure HAI and LAN, either.

-->I got to ASKSA____ and was befuddled. There's the word "about," right in the clue. You can't have ABOUT in the answer. But what then? ASKS AFTER??? After what? I don't understand. Makes no sense to me.

-->LITTLERHODY? People really say that? Sounds like baby talk.
-->And right next to it, VUITTON had to go in 100% on crosses. Fashion is like rap to me: my eyes glaze over.

-->BUSMAPS. I agree, they might aid a person who is JUST BEGINNING to commute, but that's about it. Clue should have read "tourist."

-->I worked almost twenty years in the flower industry, and I never. ISAID NEVER! heard of "CARNATION" pink. Yes, there certainly are pink ones--in fact, the technical name for it IS "pink," but to describe a color? NOSOAP.

-->Finally, the natick at UNU_/SA_SA. Was it S or M? 50-50 (see what I did there?*). In the end I decided that Mr. Kafka would tend to mirror the pattern of his name and went with SAMSA. I know the story, of course, but had forgotten the guy's name.

So while I didn't exactly experience the feeling of TRIUMPH that I do upon solving a tough Friday or Saturday, this was still enough for a sense of accomplishment. A Tuesday it is NOT.

I do like LG, normally, but the fill in this one is not up to her usual standards. CMD, WSW atop AKA, III, etc. Theme and execution are fine as long as the LAYER aspect refers to the positioning of theme answers on the grid, and not to the CAKES themselves. B-.

Waxy in Montreal 1:56 PM  

Who knew the old Marty Robbins hit "white sports coat and a pink CARNATION" could one day help solve a NYT tough clue but today it did. Didn't know a lot in this puzzle - HAI, LORELEI, LITTLERHODY. OMNIA, ASADA - but what made it particularly enjoyable to me anyway was that all answers could be inferred from their crosses.

One CRUMB of a quibble - does anyone still link office PC's in a LAN? Very dated clue IMHO.

Diana,LIW 2:45 PM  

Having lived carless in NYC and Philly, I often consulted a bus map when visiting a museum or other venue, but not while commuting. Maybe "Aids for urban visits" "trips" "tours" "excursions" would do.

This was a small whirla fun for me. How some people can get so riled up over a puzzle is beyond my Barbie. (Take that, Ken.) It's just a puzzle, it came over to your house to play for a while. Be nice to your little guest. Get angry at the front page - that's where the nastiness lies. (And the lies are there, too, in the politicosphere.)

About 80% Monday-easy, 20% Wed or Thurs for me. Having dalia instead of TULIP really FOULed me UP. And spelling KLEPTOMANIA with a C...yeah, right. No one else mentioned those particular goofs. Sometimes I can watch my brain jump out of my head and walk out the door.

RAHRAH puz, you TRIUMPHed SAYS I. But I I I don't feel CRUMBy. Y? Cuz I DUG so many of the clues, as others have mentioned.

I was reminded of the old joke that ended with the nonsensical punch line, "No soap, radio." Basically you had to have someone else (or several others, better yet) in on the joke. After the punch line, those in the know laugh like crazy. The dupes stand there, wondering what they missed. Google for several variations - I learned the one with elephants in the bathtub.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for more Gorski

rain forest 3:08 PM  

Hey, @Spacey, I don't know if the phrase ASKS AFTER is Canadian or British, but it is usually used when someone inquires about the health or condition of another, eg, Sally frequently asks after her grandfather. Gimme for me.

SAMSA of course brought to mind Franz Kafka who brought to mind Shelley Berman's hilarious bit, "Franz Kafka on the telephone". If I knew how to embed I would. I also read, or tried to read, The Castle and The Trial. Tortuous stuff.

I think VUITTON bags are ugly.

Oddly, I just learned there is such a thing as a SHEET cake last month.

I like Liz Gorski's work a lot, and thoroughly enjoyed this "medium" puzzle.


Thursday googler 3:19 PM  

Some of us have heard the term ten pins before.

Thursday googler 3:22 PM  

And here I thought only of the child's "patty cake" game being a clever insert.

Thursday googler 3:26 PM  

Asks after is just another way of saying asks about. It's a big country, filled with people of different ages. Some people ask after how someone else is doing or feeling.

Red Valerian 4:33 PM  

Am I the only one who had bus naps? The ability to take those would be much more useful to urban commuters than bus maps! Yes, it made the cross "onnia", and it occurred to me that "omnia" looked better, but I was so pleased with bus naps...

kathy of the tower 1:24 AM  

@ Red Valerian: Oh, you just brought back memories of my father, He took bus naps and would talk about his bus friends.

I sure enjoyed this puzzle, some clever clues, good words and my favorite, carrot cake.

Anonymous 5:38 AM  
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