Great Bear Lake locale - THURSDAY, Mar. 5, 2009 - D. J. Kahn (Bayes who sang and co-wrote "Shine On, Harvest Moon" / Rocket first tested in 1957)
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: IDITAROD TRAIL / SLED DOG RACE (33A: With 16-Down, annual March event)
Word of the Day: SERGE (40A: Ridged material) - Serge is a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings. French serge is a softer, finer variety. The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven. (wikipedia)
Hello and welcome to my first ever 15-minute write-up. I've got a kid to get to school and an exam to write, so I've gotta blaze through this today, which is slightly ironic as I did not "blaze through" this puzzle. It was a hard puzzle to do quickly, primarily (in my case) because of the eastern vertical theme answer: FAR DISTANT PLACE (9D: What the Athabaskan word for the beginning of 33-Across means). I had the very beginning, but that didn't really help, and left the whole eastern portion of the puzzle looking quite gutted for a long time. Thank god for high school French, or I might have gotten very badly hung up. MOLIERE eventually came to the rescue (24D: "The School for Wives" playwright), and I then chipped away at the east until it was done, ending ... actually, the very ending was the far SW, but only because I held off on it til the end.
The western vertical theme answer wasn't much easier to throw down. ALASKA ... something? Didn't help that I was solving in AcrossLite and typed in ONEKAP where ONELAP was meant to go - my first glance at 4D thus at first seemed to start AKA... and I was killing myself trying to think of the most exotic place names possible... But even after I fixed it and ALASKA showed up, the NINTERIOR part took some thinking (4D: Setting for much of the 33-Across/16-Down). Does this race start today? Is that why we're getting it in our puzzle. Who Knew the full name of this thing??? I got IDITAROD and then managed to get the SLED DOG RACE going down, but the TRAIL part was unknown to me (another factor in the difficulty of the eastern portion).
Nice theme tie-ins at PARKA (19A: Cold weather wear) and SPEAR fishing (45A: Fishing tool).
- 1A: Great Bear Lake locale (Canada) - not familiar. Canada feels awfully big for a "locale"
- 14A: Lover of Aida (Radames) - brain would not retrieve this quickly enough for my liking. I learned everything I know about "Aida" from crosswords, including this guy.
- 16A: Potent pitcherfuls (sangrias) - eerie how quickly this came to me. I don't even drink the stuff. Much.
- 27A: Coconut yield? (idea) - Ugh. I believe the last time anyone referred to a person's head as his "coconut," I was not yet born.
- 32A: Rocket first tested in 1957 (Atlas) - again, not yet born.
- 36A: Title woman in a Jim Carrey movie (Irene) - from "Me, Myself, and IRENE," one of several pop culture gimmes today. See also "DARIA" (5D: "Beavis and Butt-head" spinoff) and DANNER (7D: Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Blythe) - who is Gwyneth Paltrow's mom, if I remember correctly.
- 49A: It may be revealed by a tree (pedigree) - one of two references to chart shapes in the puzzle today. See also PIE (19D: Representation of a budget, often).
- 35D: It may provide one's sole support (toe) - my TOE supports my sole? I ... guess ... if you stretch the meaning of "support" a little.
- 38D: Six-Day War participant: Abbr. (Syr.) - I had ISR. for a bit.
- 48D: Bayes who sang and co-wrote "Shine On, Harvest Moon" (Nora) - total mystery. Guessed it correctly off the "N".
- 55D: _____ Metro (bygone car) (Geo) - didn't get this instantly only because I didn't know the GEO Metro was "bygone." It joins ALERO among the cars that have been new and then "bygone" within my lifetime. There are probably tons, but only so many you'd ever see in the grid.
OK, that took slightly longer than 15 minutes, but close enough.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld