Jason of Harry Potter movies / THU 5-8-14 / Stratego piece with monocle / Fourth-largest city in Deutschland / Its first capital was Chillicothe 1803-10 / Heyward Stone Nelson Declaration of Independence
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Constructor: Matthew Lees
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- 3D: Statement #1 (NINE-DOWN IS FALSE)
- 9D: Statement #2 (THREE-DOWN IS TRUE)
Word of the Day: Jason ISAACS (48A: Jason of the Harry Potter movies) —
Jason Isaacs (born 6 June 1963) is an English actor. He is known for his performance as the Death Eater Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, the brutal Colonel William Tavington in The Patriot and as lifelong criminal Michael Caffee in the American television series Brotherhood. Though most of his work has been in film and television, it also includes stage performances; most notably as Louis Ironson in Declan Donnellan's 1992 and 1993 Royal National Theatre London premières of Parts One (Millennium Approaches) and Two (Perestroika) of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, and as Ben, one of two hitmen, playing opposite Lee Evans as Gus, in Harry Burton's 2007 critically acclaimed 50th-anniversary revival of Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's 1957 two-hander The Dumb Waiter at Trafalgar Studios He starred in the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) drama Awake as DetectiveMichael Britten from March to May 2012. (wikipedia)
• • •
PARADOX? The statements aren't even statements about anything. It's an entirely self-contained, self-referential system. There's nothing to pull this puzzle out of the category of "minor curiosity." The worst American Values Crosswords and Fireball Crosswords absolutely crush this puzzle in terms of inventiveness, humor and cultural relevance. And that's an apples-to-apples comparison, because this is NYT's big day for sparkly, creative, even rule-breaking puzzles. Thursday! It's supposed to be a treat. But this is adequate at best. It's like a practice crossword—a good early effort that maybe gets published somewhere minor if you're lucky, and then you go on to do better stuff. But—especially when you consider the completely ordinary quality of the fill (which should be sizzling given how undemanding the theme is)—it has no business being in the Big Leagues. What in the world is going on?
The only fill that grabbed my attention was COWGIRL, a cute, lively, interesting term (8D: Lassoing lass). The rest is average to below average. There are only 37 squares of theme material here. I just don't get it. Or, rather, assuming the constructor is relatively inexperienced (he's not in my database of NYT puzzles from the past 8 years), I do get it. I get it. The grid has been filled by someone without a lot of experience. If I were seeing this is in a different, less (allegedly) prestigious context, I'd think this was quite promising work. Fill's not great, but at least there's nothing terrible here. It's COHOE-free, for instance. That is something. And in fact, the fill is probably average by current NYT standards. So, again, the puzzle is not abysmal. It's just Not up to what a NYT Thursday should be, which is to say it's not scintillating. You want to call yourself the best, give me scintillating. Please. I beg you.
And here's the best part, the coup de resistance and the pied-à-terre and the je ne sais quoi all rolled into one—This Theme Has Been Done. In 2005. IN THE NYT. Here ya go:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld