1977 Boz Scaggs hit / TUE 1-8-13 / 1974 John Wayne crime drama / Volga River native / Coal-rich area in Europe / Bird with red-eyed yellow-throated varieties
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Constructor: Allan E. Parrish
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: DECK OF CARDS (54A: Something with which you might do the actions at the ends of 20-, 27- and 45-Across) — pretty self-explanatory
- 20A: 1977 Boz Scaggs hit ("LIDO SHUFFLE")
- 27A: Source of ground chuck (SHOULDER CUT)
- 45A: All-in-one offer (PACKAGE DEAL)
Word of the Day: SAAR (34A: Coal-rich area in Europe) —
The Saar Protectorate was a short-lived post-World War II protectorate (1947–56) partitioned from defeated Nazi Germany; it was administered by the French Fourth Republic. Since rejoining West Germany in 1957, it is the smallest Federal German Area State (Flächenland), the Saarland, not counting the city-states Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen. It is named after the Saar River.The region around the Saar River and its tributary valleys is a geographically folded, mineral rich, ethnically German, economically important, heavily industrialized area. It possesses well-developed transportation infrastructure that was one of the centres of the Industrial Revolution in Germany and formed, around 1900, from the Ruhr Area and the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, the third-largest area of coal, iron and steel industry in Germany. From 1920 to 1935, as a result of World War I, the region was under the League of Nations mandate of the Saar. Near the end of World War II it was heavily bombed by the Allies as part of their strategic bombing campaigns. (wikipedia)
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This is a simple theme—one that surely must have been done before. But I wonder if I (always) care about such things. I mean, if the theme answers feel fresh and the grid is solidly filled and you throw some nice big corners into the bargain (see, for example, this puzzle), maybe that's perfectly adequate for a Tuesday. Or maybe we should expect more than merely "adequate" from the NYX. At any rate, I had no strong objections to this puzzle. The theme seemed almost incidental—didn't really notice it, and I don't think it helped me get any of the answers (I somehow managed to remember the SHUFFLE part of "LIDO SHUFFLE" with only a cross or two, which is good, because otherwise I would've been singing the song to myself, in my head, for the rest of the solve, and since the word "SHUFFLE" appears precisely nowhere in the actual lyrics, such singing would've yielded nada except terminal earworm). I know virtually nothing about cuts of meat, so SHOULDER CUT was by far the hardest of the theme answers to come up with. In fact, off the "C" in "MCQ" (which I also mysteriously managed to remember), I'm pretty sure I wrote in COW as the last part of the ground chuck answer. There's nothing scintillating in the fill, but nothing too dire, either. This is a puzzle that would've been right at home in the mid-'90s, but it's a decent effort nonetheless
Where were the snags? Well, there weren't many. I started off with PEST at 1A: Constant nuisance (BANE), but ditched that after 1D: Big New Year's Day events pretty much demanded the answer of BOWLS (apparently there's a verrrrrry lopsided bowl game going on right now, as I type). I half-wanted TIBER at 43A: Volga River native (TATAR), but only because I had the "T" and "R" and obviously wasn't reading the clue clearly. Had an oddly hard time making sense of 64A: At least once (EVER). I had the whole thing before I realized how it worked. I am growing proud at my bird-retention—never heard of a VIREO before I started solving crosswords, and now it's right there in my back pocket, ready to go whenever a 5-letter bird ending in "O" is called for (31A: Bird with red-eyed and yellow-throated varieties). I semi-enjoyed the paired music genre clues (5D: Dance music genre (TECHNO) + 10D: Nondance music genre (EMO)). I had completely forgotten that Nicole KIDMAN won an Oscar for "The Hours." She should've won for "To Die For," in which she was Fantastic.
I like how EDMOND Hoyle is tucked in there, quietly overseeing the whole card game (25A: Hoyle of "Hoyle's Rules of Games").
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorldt