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


joho 7:47 AM  

I really loved this puzzle because it was so full of NEW words and phrases.

I wanted the Great Bear Lake locale to be a city in Michigan for some reason. And once getting the OB for Ear part my brain wouldn't let go of lOBe ... until I switched gears from human body parts to vegetables. Getting the "C" led me to CANADA the country and away from that elusive city in Michigan.

@Rex: thank you for the timeless Laurel and Hardy clip!

David J. Kahn: thanks for a great Thursday puzzle!

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

I loved it, too. The content was extra interesting and fun to figure out. I also love the sound of "far distant land," like something from a Scottish or English ballad.

And, I agree, a difficult puzzle for a Thursday.

evil doug 8:14 AM  

49A: "jump off the page". What Hillary said.

I met John Glenn at a gate in Cincinnati while we were both waiting for our flights. He reminisced a little about his first orbital mission. The Atlas rocket, he said, was a "gasbag"---the metal felt thin and wobbly until it was fueled, which stiffened it up for launch. They had had a lot of failures with the Atlas leading to some wild explosions, but there he sat on the tip of his spear, saying his prayer, hoping not to "screw the pooch".


Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Hey, my littlephoto didn't pop up! I'll try this. . . but give up after, so don't worry.

sillygoose 8:24 AM  

I missed the chance to say how much I enjoyed the Monday Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles this week. I was hoping to be able to say the same about Thursday but I just couldn't get anywhere with it.

Yesterday was such a confidence builder because not too long ago I never would have figured out a rebus so quickly, but today was a confidence squasher. To me, the theme answers didn't follow intuitively one to the next. FAR DISTANT PLACE seems made up even if it isn't. And did other people know it wasn't just "Iditarod" but all the other words too?

I swear to Baal my golden retriever says "out" when he wants to go out. It may sound like "woof" to the uninitiated but I'm telling ya .... Maybe if I had spent more time thinking about dogs I would have gotten more of this puzzle.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

Who have we met in airports? I met Don Knotts once in the Pittsburgh airport baggage claim area. Irrelevant to today's puzzle, I know. I'm just saying...
- Tom in Pittsburgh

dk 8:32 AM  

Random thoughts on a puzzle theme:

ROOTCANAL! Does it pass the breakfast test? I dunno I'll ask her (get it wink wink).

I am sorry these days when I think of Alaska only Sara P. and her winged monkeys come to mind.

It goes without saying I liked the Coconut clue.

Most insensitive news story: "Lost jobs add up to speedier commute.

Given the fact that basic spelling is allusive IDITERODTRAIL was a challenge.

The rest was just plain fun.

Jeffrey 8:54 AM  

GOODNESS gracious. Still trying to catch up on sleep from the weekend in a FAR DISTANT PLACE. That's my story on why it took me so long to get CANADA. Also why IN A JAR sounded good to me (REO fine as a bygone car, right?). And why I wondered who SLEDDO GRACE was.

PlantieBea 8:56 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot--always a pleasure to learn something new. For me, the meaning of Iditarod was new. I knew that Bear Lake was in Canada, so the NW corner filled in quickly. Hence the Alaskan word quickly seemed like the only option, and Iditarod could be the only event I'd see in a March puzzle.

I didn't know if it would be a SLEDDING or SLED DOG race, so I was stuck for a moment with that word.

A fun, interesting puzzle D. Kahn.

Alex S. 8:57 AM  

I knew the full name for the event so once I had ALASKA I was able to figure out the two long themes making up the name. INTERIOR came quickly enough (I know enough Alaskans and have been there a couple times to have the phrase floating in my head).

FAR DISTANT PLACE is what caused all of the trouble. Faced with


I parsed it as:

---DIST ANT-L---

which makes it obvious that it is some kind of ANTELOPE and strongly considering that NORDIST (perhaps a perversion of NORDIC) might be a word.

Once I had DISTANT broken between two words it took me forever to put the halves back together.

But eventually I did. Overall I liked the puzzle a fair bit.

RodeoToad 9:06 AM  
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RodeoToad 9:08 AM  
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chefbea 9:36 AM  

Hardest puzzle of the week so far bur still wasnt too bad. Never heard of Athabaskan. I assume it is a language. Don't think I have an Athabaskan cookbook in my collection.

Xavier 9:39 AM  

This puzzle fell pretty quickly for me, and for no apparent reason. Things were just clicking for me. That being said, my time was average for a successful Thursday. For some reason IDITAROD was vaguely floating around in my head at ridiculously early stage of the puzzle. Unfortunately I have to say ditto in the IDITeROD misspelling. All in all, I enjoyed the puzzle.


Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Let me begin with my confession. I had Le nada not Ca nada. For some reason I thought lobe was spelled correctly as lob and the whole thing looked right to me. Geez. Daria was a total guess and the time spent there may be why I made the error. Other than that, the puzzle was quite doable.

I prefer some sort of puzzle(s) within the puzzle rather than straight themes as in today's puzzle. Once I saw Iditarod it was all over with a little assistance from Moliere. And Uta is one of those names I never remember no matter how many times it shows up.

All in all, a good fun puzzle with lots of zest.

retired_chemist 9:48 AM  

I agree with medium - challenging for Thursday. Also agree that CANADA is too big for a locale. I needed 4 crosses before getting that.

Best traction initially was in the SW. Knew Jim Palmer was on the OROIOLES and saw through the tricky cluing for PEDIGREE. BTW do sled dogs have PEDIGREES of record?

Had to have quite a few crosses before the theme materialized.

The ROOT CANAL clue was cute. RADAMES is another bit of my crossword subconscious.

Doable but not easy. Closer to Friday cluing than Wednesday.

addie loggins 9:54 AM  

The puzzles have been great all week, so Friday has some pressure on it. I would have finished this one quickly (for me), but I had "deface" istead of DEFAME, and didn't know Aida's lover, so I stared at C_A for a long time and finally wrote in Y (after all, don't people often apologize in an effort to cover their a**es?)

Enjoyed the clues and answers, esp. POP. ROOTCANAL seemed a clear shout-out to Sandy -- hope she's feeling better.

I've decided there are too many schoolyard retorts out there, and they are too similar to one another, e.g., AMNOT, ARESO, AMTOO, ARETOO, ARENOT. Always takes me awhile to figure out which to use.

allan 9:55 AM  

A difficult, but very fair puzzle. And that's all I ask for. Loved cob, mea & rootcanal thanks to the cluing. The theme was fun and informative. I learned how to spell iditAROD (possibly the subliminal that led to the pic in Rex' writeup). And who knew that Oliver Hardy was such a song man?

Thanks David for a great Thursday puzzle.

Unknown 10:02 AM  

I liked this puzzle really because it was full of stuff there was no way I could ever reasonably get -- and yet I did. Eventually.
It was unbelievably satisfying to finish it (correctly!), and then even more gratifying to find it labeled as medium-challenging here.
Thanks Rex!

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

The whole week has been delightful so far, with today being a confidence builder. I ordinarily begin to get bogged down by Thursday, but this one fell nicely with great cluing and fill. This may be the only time I've ever found a puzzle less challenging than Rex--for me a relatively easy Thursday! Thanks DJK.

Now that Laurel and Hardy clip--fabulous, Rex. Couldn't imagine getting to "Shine On Harvest Moon" from where it started. Morocco? What's the movie?

Shamik 10:06 AM  

Ditto with retired_chemist at "doable but not easy." A solidly challenging puzzle. I enjoyed the theme, though the Iditarod is one sporting event I don't plan to ever watch in person.

Me? I wanted Bear Lake in California. Remember sort of event that was planned near something I thought was Bear Lake. Many of my thoughts were similar to Rex.

Other mis-starts:

Good puzzle.

Shamik 10:09 AM  

And thanks for Laurel & Hardy. Loved it! But, why wasn't Ollie's moustache more disturbing to me as a kid than it is now?

Shamik 10:10 AM  

Finally...have seen famous people walking down the street in NYC, but never in an airport. But then i'm not in airports as often as evil doug!

allan 10:11 AM  

BTW, the official Iditarod website says there is one day to the start of the race, which begins on March 7, 2009. Does anybody really know what time it is?

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Review of “Flying Deuces” in the New York Times
Published: November 24, 1939

Stan and Ollie join the French Foreign Legion in order that the latter may "forget," try to desert because of insufficient pay (3 cents a day), are caught and condemned to death, escape and unintentionally get themselves into a runaway airplane. This final sequence, which is but a repetition of a Keystone runaway chase, is the funniest in the picture, with the plane zooming wildly up and down, and is adequate compensation for some other very tedious stretches.

jeff in chicago 10:40 AM  

As Alaskan races are not generally in the front of my mind, I put STPATRICKSDAY in at 33A. The R matched the end of ELDER, so despite it being way early for St. Pat's Day, it seemed logical enough. UTA made it clearly wrong.

A few more crosses revealed IDITAROD. And thanks to a former fellow news editor at the Plain Dealer, who was an Iditarod junkie, I recalled the whole official name of the race. ALASKANINTERIOR came with a few crosses. But FAR... took some work.

I've had two ROOTCANALs, both completely painless. Ya just need the right dentist.

I've never met anyone famous in an airport.

mac 10:44 AM  

I loved this puzzle, and really only had problems in the SE because of the are too/are not part. Thought it might be TEN (Tennessee?) and GET.... It helped to figure the theme early on, although I still had to piece together some parts of the long answers. I also thought 46A was a shout-out to Sandy! The clueing was great in many cases, lots of fun Mr. Kahn!

@Rex: I played the Harvest Moon clip and to my surprise my husband sat up and told me we own a dvd with several Laurel and Hardy movies, and this one he likes the best! Have to watch it when we're home again.

I've met some famous people in airports and on planes, like Mohammed Ali in Miami a long time ago and Margaret Thatcher, fast asleep with mouth wide open on a BA flight.

We're going to drive around South Beach for a bit, then across the bridge to the Miami Museum of Art. A little cloudy, but the temperature is coming up.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I'm surprised (unless I missed it) that no one commented about the redundant nature of FAR DISTANT PLACE. A distant place is by definition far. And if it's far, it is, by definition, distant.

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Fabulous Thursday. I also started out thinking it was going to involve St. Pat but thought it was a tad early in the month for that. I got the theme answers before the fill.
I think that since a cuisine is derived from available ingredients an Athabaskan cookbook might be a thin volume.
To keep with the canine theme 15A could have been clued "____ of dog" as a sign on a fence.
Alaskan huskies nowadays might have pedigrees but the breed, versus a Siberian Husky, originally consisted of whatever dogs happened to be in port long enough to mate with the native dogs. The ones with dense coats and stamina became the sled dogs. Simon, my avatar, is a good example.

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

Oh, I saw Bill Walton in an airport but since he was about 2 feet taller than everyone else he was easy to spot.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

About four years ago, we had the pleasure of having children's author Shelley Gill come to my kids' school for a visit, where she talked about living and writing books in Alaska and, yes, about that time she competed in the Iditarod race. Since then, every year the kids get reminded of the start and finish of the race (you can check it online too). It is an arduous, long and sometimes dangerous journey, but a very exciting one indeed!

As for the puzzle, I found it was really hard until I got the Iditarod and Alaskan interior bits.

One thing though, since when are sangrias potent? It's mostly wine with lemonade and fruit!

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

By the way, can someone explain the use and meaning of "on a jag"? I've never heard of it... or maybe I should just google and keep quiet? :-)

fikink 11:08 AM  

KAHN! usually gives me fits. But, once the theme was determined, the puzzle was pretty breezy.
It helps, of course, that my nephew lives just on the edge of Denali National Park and sends us photos and reports on the Iditarod every year. So the fast solve serendipity.

Ulrich 11:15 AM  
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ArtLvr 11:17 AM  

I enjoyed this Kahn puzzle too, and despite a slow start was able to finish okay with some crosses to help out on the unknown names. Also, if I see a "Stan's partner" I think of Fran -- as in Kukla, Fran and OLLIE. (My piano teacher was related to Fran.) For Blythe DANNER I'm going to have to stretch, -- as in the catastrohic Donner Pass pioneer group which was not blithe at all (O, no.) And DARIA as a spinoff of something icky? "Dare ya" to get it...

Plenty to like, though... Timely with the annual Alaskan SLED DOG RACE starting Saturday, I'm told. I'll picture winged monkeys whizzing along overhead thanks to DK!!!


Anonymous 11:20 AM  

@Mexgirl: my local(Massapequa NY) Mexican Restaurant mixes the pitches of Sangria with three other types of liquor added to the wine; my wife is drunk for two days whenever she orders it.

@50D: "to thee i do commend my watchful soul/Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes" Richard III Act 5 Scene5 line 68-69 (Norton Shakespeare). It is the night before the climatic battle and immediately before the ghosts come to torment Richard III.

Ulrich 11:23 AM  

With Radames and Moliere as gimmies, the whole eastern half fell quickly and spilled into the west enough to make that not too difficult either. The C of CANADA was the last letter to go in--agree with Rex: It's an awfully big "locale".

Aida was composed for a specific occasion, the opening of the Suez Canal. It plays in ancient Egypt and was staged before an audience of then-present-day Egyptians. Here's the most insightful comment I ever read about that piece: The story of a general (our friend Radames) having to choose between a captured princess (Aida) and the Egyptian princess to whom he is betrothed would have been incomprehensible to the ancient Egyptians and probably didn't make much sense to the the ones in attendance either--in either society, Radames would not have had to choose... Just to continue with the discussion of cultural tunnel vision that started yesterday. Needless to say, I could never listen to Aida again with a straight face after that comment.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Didn't like CANADA as a locale either, but just looked up where the Great Bear Lake is, and all I can say is it's in CANADA. Way the hell up there somewhere. Not near anything, anyone. So, in CANADA seems to be about as precise as possible.

jeff in chicago 11:35 AM  

@Ulrich: The Aida/Suez Canal connection seems to be a myth. Aida premiered two years after the opening of the canal. It seems Verdi was asked to write a piece for the opening, but declined.

Ulrich 11:41 AM  

@jeff in Chicago: I can't deny this--but it doesn't seem to change my general point. The premiere was in Cairo, and the plot makes sense only from a strictly Euro/Christian-centric perspective, i.e. that of a monogamous society.

jeff in chicago 11:50 AM  

@Ulrich: These may be one of those things that I only thought I knew. Since my last post I've been doing some checking (perhaps those actions should have been reversed!) and I find much more corraboration of the link than refutation. I'm glad I at least wrote "seems."

And I certainly didn't want to negate your larger point. It is clearly correct.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Thanks to infections, my rootcanal was not painless and isn't over yet. Have yet another appointment next week.

I found this puzzle very satisfying because I made lots of mistakes (fishermen use sonar, right?) and had gaping holes for quite a while, but then it all came together and thus I feel good about my-post Brooklyn "finish every darn puzzle no matter what" resolution. Until tomorrow, that is.

Margaret 11:57 AM  

I had the SLED part of the down clue before I ever saw 33A so IDITAROD came quickly. The TRAIL part trailed for quite a while.

What really stumped me was WA/OR/Northern CA -- even after I got the long INTERIOR clue. Had NEVADA for CANADA for too long. Was utterly (udderly?) blind to ADMIRAL which should have been pretty obvious. Had no IDEA about coconut yield. Even when I finally finished that last section, it was curiously unsatisfying. Liked the theme, though.

I have very fond memories of seeing Lake Athabaska while driving through the Canadian Rockies. Beautiful country.

@mac -- If you have time to visit Vizcaya, a beautiful villa and gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay, it's worth a visit.

fikink 12:05 PM  

@Sandy, indeed, fishermen use sonar! You should hear the umbrage taken with Brother Dit on his unfair advantage over the poor bluegill. (OTOH, maybe you shouldn't.)

@twoponies, I have a Simon, too; tho, he is a yellow Lab. Stately appellation, IMO!

@margaret, ADMIRAL gave me pause, too; because it is Thursday, I was thinking of Achilles who was "fleet of foot."

Orange 12:08 PM  

@Steve L: For all we know, the Athabaskan language distinguishes between near distant and far distant. I could see far distant meaning 1,000 miles and near distant meaning too long to walk in an hour, but still reachable. When I create my own language, I'm definitely having this distinction.

SethG 12:15 PM  

Easiest puzzle of the week for me, and I spent at least half my time trying to get into the east. (Somehow, my vast knowledge of opera and French didn't help.)

steve l, does this make you feel any better about "far distant"? Maybe not, though it does seem to be the most frequently cited definition.

Yesterday, I almost linked to one of my friend Justine's cat blogs. Yesterday, my friend Justine, a vet, left to work at her 8th(?) Iditarod. I don't know if she met anyone famous at the airport. I have.

Blanche 12:22 PM  

I think that "far distant place" is a fairly common idiom.

miguel 12:25 PM  

TO Orange's point. If I'm an Inuit developing a language and the nearest tribe is fishing for Salmon in say, Vancouver and my relatives are busy conquering most of Europe on horseback, I might consider one far and the other far distant. Don't know what I'd call the land of the Olmec, but 'Far far distant place,' Iditiditarod might make sense.

My amazing airport story is that one time in a career of traveling, a plane was on-time and they didn't lose my luggage.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Couldn't get anywhere at first, only had lese and Orioles, but got Danner and edge and guessed Moliere/ami and eventually got through. Really a very rewarding puzzle to finish.

@TwoPonies. I was walking through the Detroit airport and was suddenly surrounded by dark men in suits, all taller than I am (I'm 6'5"), and had some anxious moments until I realized it was the Detroit Pistons basketball team!

HudsonHawk 12:28 PM  

@mexgirl (and PIX), I have a friend that marinates all the fruit in brandy for 24 hours before making her SANGRIA. Not only is it quite potent, but nobody realizes this until it's way too late. (By the way, she throws great parties.)

@miguel, you check luggage? Rolling the dice there...

George NYC 12:39 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot, but agree with dk above that I can't think of Alaska and/or sled dog racing anymore without being reminded of Sarah Palin and her small town virtues.

foodie 12:57 PM  

I became aware of the Iditarod sled-dog race in the mid-80's when a woman won it for the first time, and then there were several years where it was won by women. I remember reading an interview with one of these women, and she discussed the difference between sports that require a burst of power and speed versus those that require long-term endurance, and how there is no reason that women could excel especially in the latter category.

I've since used the Iditarod as a metaphor for what it takes to succeed in science--especially in talking to young women who sometimes despair of trying to balance family and career during early years. The winner is not necessarily the one who gets off to a very fast start, but the one who has the talent, the fire in the belly and determination to go the 1000 miles, weather the storms and never lose sight of the finish line.

I did not know the meaning if Iditarod, and FAR DISTANT LAND is a lovely addition to my metaphor, as figuring out the workings of nature seems very remote at times, but once again, attainable.

evil doug 1:01 PM  

Anybody know the average number of dogs who die in the Iditarod? The human gets the credit; the dogs---if they live---get some nice kibble.


foodie 1:01 PM  

Correction: "there is no reason that women couldn't (not could) excel especially in the latter category."

jae 1:02 PM  

Needed my brides help with the AIDA answer because I was between FORDIS... and FARDIS... . In retrospect FOR really doesn't work but it looked OK at the time. Liked this one a lot as I learned a bunch of new stuff. The East side was definitely challenging for me.

Saw Robert Redford in a restaurant (Nepenthe sp?) in Big Sur, but no one in an airport.

Greene 1:04 PM  

Great puzzle today. I love having a puzzle that is filled with answers I don't know but I can figure out eventually. Agree with others that this has been a wonderful week of puzzles and expectations are high for tomorrow.

The Laurel and Hardy clip was very entertaining. "Shine On Harvest Moon" was indeed written by singer Nora Bayes and her then husband, Jack Norworth. It was debuted by Ms. Bayes in the Follies of 1908 and was an immense success. This was only the second Follies in New York and still a rather small affair staged on a rooftop theatre. Ziegfeld didn't attach his name until the 1911 edition. This is one of the few truly popular songs to ever emerge from the Follies. As stylish and opulent as the shows were, Ziegfeld pretty much had a tin ear and the scores were rarely memorable.

evil doug 1:05 PM  

oooh, here are some fun facts:

" In almost all of the Iditarod races, at least one dog death has occurred. The first race is reported to have resulted in the deaths of 15 to 19 dogs. In 1997, the Anchorage Daily News reported that "at least 107 (dogs) have died." In the years since that report, 29 more dogs have died in the Iditarod, bringing the grand total of dogs who have died in the Iditarod to at least 136. There is no official count of dog deaths available for the race's early years and this count relies only on a reported number of deaths.

"Causes of death during the last ten years have included strangulation in towlines, internal hemorrhaging after being gouged by a sled, liver injury, heart failure, and pneumonia. "Sudden death" and "external myopathy," a condition in which a dog's muscles and organs deteriorate during extreme or prolonged exercise, have also been blamed. In 1985 a musher kicked his dog to death. The 1975 Iditarod winner, Jerry Riley, was banned for life in 1990 after being accused of striking his dog with a snow hook (a large, sharp and heavy metal claw). In 1996 Rick Swenson's dog died while he mushed his team through waist-deep water and ice.

"The Iditarod Trail Committee does not release information about dogs who die after the race."


dk 1:05 PM  

Athabaska is also a glacier that has the purest water for a far and distant way.

Many years ago on a North American road trip I rode the sno-cats up to the glacier filled my water bottle, drank some and used the rest to make what may have been the finest espresso ever... until I went to Ninth Street Roasters.

@twoponies, I used to fly in an altered state and I saw all kinds of things in airports, funniest time was emerging from the planes bathroom thinking no one will smell a thing and having the flight attendant laugh at me and express concern that I might not be able to find my seat.

@george nyc, I meant to say small town virtues but it just came out wrong. I wonder if Sara is still mad about the house falling on her sister?

chefwen 1:06 PM  

If Pix's wife is drunk for two days after drinking SANGRIA she is ON A JAG.

I was also waiting for a St. Pat's day theme to come POPing out but a few quick answers nixed that idea. All in all enjoyed the puzzle and the challange.

Saw Bill Macy at the baggage claim at LAX and kept staring at him trying to place him, he noticed me gaping so he got on his phone and started to talk "hollywood stuff", still didn't figure out who he was until after we left and said "damn, I could have used my midwestern twang on him and talked Fargo style, don't cha know."

Jeffrey 1:07 PM  

Is there a dog blog people can be directed to?

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

@Orange, I was talking about English, not Athabaskan. If they do make a distinction, it's still redundant in ENGLISH to say FAR DISTANT. How about:
very distant
really distant
extremely far
way too far to walk

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

@Steve L - So Dickens was (wrongly) redundant when saying "It is a far, far better..."? Emphasis doesn't equal redundancy.

Parshutr 1:30 PM  

I met Tiger Woods and his wife at an airport; saw Henry Kissinger at one years ago; travelled with Joan Baez, but that doesn't count, because I had known her pretty well before that.
This puzzle was pretty boring, truth to tell...not at all challenging.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

People I've Met at an Airport Blog

Two Ponies 1:41 PM  

As dangerous as the race is the story of the first "race" is an heroic one with a happy ending in which medicine is delivered to a far distant place. I believe there is a statue in Central Park honoring the dogs.
@ dk, same trip, different plane

edith b 1:44 PM  

steve l, I prefer poetic rather than redundant. I'm just saying.

I got CANADA right away because my husband and I went to Big Bear Lake as part of my husband's work. A convention, I think, but it set up the puzzle nicely for me as I went down the West Coast and got the first part of IDITAROD.

I worked out the far SE and got FARDISTANTPLACE from the South moving North.

All in all, this was a little harder than the usual Thursday but most of the long fill came easily so I didn't have that hard of a time.

To enlarge on Foodie's point, The Iditarod is the only athletic event where men and women compete side by side with neither having a clear cut advantage.

I always tell my greanddaughter about Susan Butcher, who won the Iditarod five times in a row, that male-female distinctions make little difference in the long run.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

@Edith B Equestrian events are competed by men and woman equally.

flagger 2:04 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Agree with those who felt the puzzle was challenging, but ultimately doable. There was some clever fill.

@ anonymous 1:40: At least crosscan comes through with actual sites when he directs us to other blogs (kenken). No fair that you just teased. So get busy and come up with something really clever.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

@Edith B. Big Bear Lake is in CA.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

@Edith B. Big Bear Lake is in CA.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

@Edith B. Big Bear Lake is in CA.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

@Edith B. Big Bear Lake is in CA.

Kurisu 2:12 PM  

humorlesstwit: Or perhaps more broadly stated, redundancy is not always bad, nor should it always be avoided. (although "far better" is not redundant, since "better" doesn't imply "much better".)

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

@edith b--One person's poetry is another's redundancy. FAR DISTANT sounds redundant to me; "far better" (shin kokin wakashu) doesn't.

archaeoprof 2:26 PM  

@Evil: I don't know about dogs in the Iditarod, but I thought I was going to die when I had to sit through a performance of Aida.

RodeoToad 2:51 PM  

Where's Big Bear Lake?

edith b 2:57 PM  

I'm sorry, I miswrote. I meant Great Bear Lake, not Big Bear Lake

And to Steve L, I didn't mean to start another TIA war. I hereby withdraw from the fray.

George NYC 2:59 PM  

Was just reading Rex's mention of Gwenyth Paltrow when I looked up and realized she and family were lunching two tables away.. spooky.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

But TIA IS your padre's hermana!!

Greene 3:05 PM  

@archaeoprof: Aida is almost as long as the Iditarod, but fortunately only the humans die. If you really want pain, however, try sitting through the exceedingly witless and dumbed-down Broadway rock version of Aida by Elton John and Tim Rice. Even the dogs want to die at that one.

Ladel 3:41 PM  

Thanx Rex

The delicious Laurel and Hardy clip is a fine example of how talented star quality people are, we usually only get to see the stuff that ultimately made them famous. You ought to see some of the old films of Bob Hope singing and dancing his ass off.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

I hear Madonna signed up for this year's race, until she learned it wasn't the I Did A-Rod contest.
Was wondering why Rex had the Yankees.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

I loved this puzzle for all the reasons listed above.

My big ?? is that I always thought is was a DOGSLED race not a SLEDDOG race. They're racing the dogs? I thought they were racing the sleds.

And, having been through a number of them, I can attest that "root canal" does NOT pass the breakfast table test.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

I loved this puzzle for all the reasons listed above.

My big ?? is that I always thought is was a DOGSLED race not a SLEDDOG race. They're racing the dogs? I thought they were racing the sleds.

And, having been through a number of them, I can attest that "root canal" does NOT pass the breakfast table test.

retired_chemist 3:59 PM  

re pedigreed dogs - Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamutes are indeed recognized breeds. But are the ones running in the Iditarod now of any particular breed(s) or are they just the best around for the purpose, no pedigree issues considered?

FWIW at a restaurant next to Madison Square Garden during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show last month, I ran into Matt Lauer going out. Fascinating conversation. Me: "You're MATT LAUER!" Matt: "How you doin'?" Me: I watch you every morning." Matt (out the door) "Yeah, thanks."

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

I saw Neil Conan last Sunday, does that count for anything? [My exact reaction was to say, fairly loudly, "Oh my God, it's NPR's Neal Conan!" He was very gracious and shook my hand]

@Wade: Not sure how I know this, but I think it might be in California.

Just realized I had another mistake: "Met" instead of "JET" I really need to pay more attention to sports.

I'm noticing that Gwyneth Paltrow is looking more and more like her mother as she ages; what luck! Bylthe Danner is gorgeous!

Ulrich 4:30 PM  

I just went through today's mail and found the final travel documents for my upcoming trip through French Polynesia from TAHITI to BORA BORA and back. And who's the first on the passenger list? A couple from Wasilla, Alaska. Boy, am I grateful for all the stuff I learned today about the Iditarod Race: It gives me a topic to bring up with them in order to avoid the obvious one.

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

I saw Art Linkletter on Fifth Ave circa 1956. Saw him again at LAX circa 1984. Two celebrity sightings of the same celeb. are enough for me.

fikink 4:56 PM  

@Ulrich, goodness! Better limit the subject to the weather. You never know what kind of maniacal narcissist you might have to humor!

Will you get the puzzle via the Internet?

SethG 5:07 PM  

Being a sled dog is undeniably dangerous. But it's not at all clear to me that dog sledding is any more dangerous for the dogs than horse racing is for horses, or rodeo for rodeo animals. Or even just working for a cowboy is for cowboy-working horses--with 1000-1500 dogs in a race that lasts 10-17 days, that's a lot of dog-years worth of work.

And Wasilla is the meth capital of Alaska.

allan 5:17 PM  

@ sethg: And you know this how?

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Trivia: The Great Bear Lake is the largest lake in Canada. I didn't need the "locale" part.
I was trying to think of a "-stan" country to boarder Uzbekistan and one of my thoughts was "Ollieandstan?" (p.s. that wouldn't fit) so, twas funny to see the clip here. JAG is derogatory slang where I come from...

fergus 5:34 PM  

Suspicious of the potency of SANGRIA and knowing little of story of Aida, I submitted ARTEMIS as her Lover. Of a Sapphic variety? The Blacken space had a lot of possible answers, so that was a problematic corner.

NUNAVUT, with Inuit letter abbreviated instead of CANADA for the locale with less farness and distance?

Wade's skepticism of repeated info somehow made me laugh like a fool.

davidb 5:52 PM  

I also struggled most with the eastern third of today’s puzzle. Didn’t help that I looked at downs first and rather boldly (and foolishly) entered IONESCO for 24D: “School of Wives” playwright and UKRAINE for 25D: Part of the Uzbekistan border. Neither is correct, obviously, but the fact that I knew enough to pull both of those answers out of my COCONUT that could plausibly be true and could be considered not as wrong as most other 7-letter names that one could think of shows that, indeed, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Now, I have two random questions:

1) Is it possible to somewhere download the puzzles used in this year’s tournament?
2) I would comment more in this blog, but I often don’t get to the NYT puzzles until a day or two after their publication. What is the blog etiquette regarding posting a comment subsequent to the day of the puzzle?

retired_chemist 6:06 PM  

@davidb - you can get them here
but it costs.

Ulrich 6:24 PM  

@sethg: That's the topic I'm talking about--is there any other?

@fikink: I may be ready for a break from puzzling anyway...

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

I found this relatively easy and liked it even though I am not a fan of the iditatrod for reasons already mentioned.

I agree with those who object to Canada being the answer to "Great Bear Lake location." It's as if the answer to "location of Lake Michigan" was "United States."

santafefran 7:04 PM  

Since I like the idea of going to the opera better than I like the actual opera my husband never lets me forget the time we went to see Aida with another opera-ignorant friend: at the intermission, my friend and I grabbed our coats and said "That wasn't so bad", only to be told that we had another half to go after intermission. It seemed like it should be over since they had already played my favorite part--the Triumphal March--which you can hear here

All this to say that I knew RADAMES right off so I guess that opera stint finally paid off.

Have seen Don Ameche in the Phoenix airport, Robert Redford in an art gallery in Santa Fe, Randy Travis in the Walgreens Pharmacy in Santa Fe and Henry Kissinger in the Topkapi Palace grounds in Istanbul (never realized how short he is).

New avatar to honor my recently departed Sheltie, Cass. Too many pet deaths recently.

archaeoprof 7:13 PM  

One time in an airport I met a person who likes Aida.

Jeffrey 7:15 PM  

I met my wife at the airport. I was there to meet her flight.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

A sled dog's lot is not a happy one.

"The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck, and under the fierce conditions of trail life it grew and grew."
The Call of the Wild

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

A sled dog's lot is not a happy one.

"The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck, and under the fierce conditions of trail life it grew and grew."
The Call of the Wild

RodeoToad 8:52 PM  

Know what's really cruel? Dog rodeos.

foodie 9:08 PM  

It was shortly after 9/11 and they had increased airport security, so they picked people at random right at the gate and hand searched their carry-on luggage. As we were about to board, the first person in line was none other that Willard Scott. The guy searching looked like he could be Afghani, spoke little English and acted for all the world like Willard Scott constituted a serious danger to all mankind. He took out each item from his bag and examined it thoroughly, in public view of all the passengers. There were numerous little bottles of Scotch and Vodka in that bag. Security dude opened each one, sniffed it carefully and set it aside. Repacked the rest and sent a very polite yet clearly uncomfortable Willard on his way to the plane. I was next to board, and ironically was not searched in spite of my clearly middle eastern name. I found myself seated next to Mr. Scott. As I arrived he was saying to the flight attendant: "I really need me a double scotch!"

He was actually terrific and I had a fun conversation with him. End of airport story...

joho 9:33 PM  

@santafefran: your dog Cass is beautiful ... I am sorry for your loss.

I was working at an ad agency in NYC when our family dog, Shadow, a Sheltie, died. I was so broken up crying all the time ... I told people it was my uncle.

Anonymous 10:16 PM  

As a former panty-girdle wearer with a cousin who lives in Natick I can't resist your blog. Watching Laurel and Hardy perform "Shine on Harvest Moon" brings back memories of a happy Chicago girlhood watching old black and white movies on T.V.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

I had ADA and assumed 1A was NEVADA and never went back to it, even though I didn't know about ear NOBs or what VEW was. Oh, CANADA!

flagger 10:41 PM  

Did I mention that I was once at the airport with 10,000 Maniacs?

retired_chemist 10:42 PM  

@ foodie -

In 1998 we were living in northern Virginia and we shopped at the Middleburg Safeway on occasion. My first wife, then still alive, was having trouble getting her stuff out to the car and a kindly, somewhat portly gentleman helped her. After a couple of minutes she realized it was none other than Willard Scott. I was a fan of his before, and even more so after that. Al Roker is fine, but Willard is the greatest.

Orange 10:47 PM  

Anon. from this afternoon: "I did A-Rod" was a theme entry in Byron Walden's Onion crossword a month ago. That joke's been done.

Addie Loggins, I'd met Neal Conan before, but not his wife Liane Hansen. When I said she sounded different in person, he covered my eyes with his hand. Hmm, yes, now she sounds right!

I never see anyone famous at the airport, unless I'm looking in the bathroom mirror.

Orange 10:48 PM  

@flagger: Jeeze, they must have put the whole terminal on lockdown for hours!

Kelly 12:00 AM  

i saw moby in the atlanta airport!

i started this puzzle during a physics colloquium (shhh) and finished a few hours and a few drinks later in the NE corner. phew... hardest thursday i've seen in a while! i didn't know the aida dude's name. i ended with RODAMES/DONNER. oops... MEA culpa!

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

I was standing in line at the Riggs Bank in Georgetown and there was a guy in front of me who looked liked a Mafia guy; he had on sunglasses and a shiny suit. He turned around and took off his sunglasses. It was Jerry Lewis. This was 1975. His hair was perfect.
Good puzzle. Kind of manky for a Thursday.

+wordphan 1:37 AM  

This is the kind of puzzle that staves off Alzheimers. I feel like I crunched some cranial muscles, so to speak.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

what no DARIA clip that is what your blog exists for. I did this on the plane yesterday and the whole last 2 hours I had the whole 20 second theme stuck in my head. I was on Alaskan airlines the official IDITAROD TRAIL airline, I was excited since no one could say I googled answers but I resisted reading the article in their mag

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

in 49A, "sole" translates to "only," rather than the sort of sole on the underside of one's foot, as in "standing on your tippie-toes"

kathkin 2:50 PM  

kathkin said
hello all from syndication land. I live in Canada, or Ca-Nada as someone noted, and did not know the answer at first, but the Iditarod answers came quite quickly. Airport Spottings? Bare Naked Ladies. General Celebsightings?
Saw Waylon Jennings drinking and playing poker in a bar once. Loved this puzzle.

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