Tourist island in Gulf of Naples / WED 5-13-15 / Marijuana psychoactive component / Donna of Clinton's cabinet / Piedmont wine / Akio who co-founded Sony / Alternative to boeuf or jambon / Bake as shelled egg / Eyelashes scientifically / zoom zoom sloganeer
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: ORSON WELLES (61A: Noted director/actor born in May 1915) — his name is in the puzzle and then the names of some of his movies / roles / radio shows are also in the puzzle the end.
- 19A: Directorial triumph for 61-Across (CITIZEN KANE)
- 24A: Film featuring 61-Across (THE THIRD MAN)
- 32A: 61-Across's role in 24-Across (HARRY LIME)
- 39A: With 43-Across, panic inducing production of 61-Across (THE WAR OF / THE WORLDS)
- 52A: 1958 film by 61-Across (TOUCH OF EVIL)
plural noun: ischia
Ischia (Italian pronunciation: [ˈiskja]) is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the city of Naples. It is the largest of the Phlegrean Islands. Roughly trapezoidal, it measures approximately 10 km (6 miles) east to west and 7 km (4 miles) north to south and has about 34 km (21 miles) of coastline and a surface area of 46.3 square kilometres (17.9 sq mi). It is almost entirely mountainous, the highest peak being Mount Epomeo at 788 metres (2,585 feet). The island has a population of over 60,000 people. Ischia is the name of the main comune of the island. The other comuni of the island are Barano d'Ischia, Casamicciola Terme, Forio, Lacco Ameno and Serrara Fontana. The main industry is tourism, centering on thermal spas that cater mostly to European (especially German) and Asian tourists eager to enjoy the fruits of the island's natural volcanic activity, its hot springs, and its volcanic mud. (wikipedia)
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Citrea—spring onion pizza! Astonishingly good, especially for this area. Anyway, I came home and found out, after about five pages of Far From the Madding Crowd, that there was no way I was staying awake past 9pm (!?), and since the puzzle comes out at 10pm … here I am at 6:30am, doing the write-up. Rested and ready! … and disappointed. First, the puzzle was easy if you've been paying attention to the news or use social media at all. ORSON WELLES's 100th birthday was actually a few days ago, so the world gave me a big Heads-Up on this one. Do the puzzle on the right day or don't do the puzzle. Come on. But the (much) bigger issue is how dull and uninspired the concept is. I'm astonished that the NYT is even doing these exceeding straightforward "tribute" puzzles anymore. Just putting a person's name in a puzzle and adding a bunch of movies he made, or starred in, or songs he sang, or books he wrote, doesn't feel like a tribute. It feels like "Today, we've actually Lowered the bar for puzzle standards, just so we could boringly list an arbitrary number of The Honored Person's works." The layering of THE WAR OF over THE WORLDS was pretty nifty. Else, blah. He deserved more than this.
This puzzle is 81 words. Why is this puzzle 81 words? Oh, it's 16 wide, I see. That makes sense now. Let's see, what to say … I do like KITTENISH. Not much else in the "Like" column, though (except the WELLES movies, of course—"THE THIRD MAN" is one of my favorites). Fill is probably average (with some THC baked in). When the lead answer (1A) is ALKA, well, that is not promising, but things improved slightly from there. I'm guessing many of you still don't know who NEYO is. Hell, I had to stop and flip through my mental rolodex of still-alive four-letter singers until he popped up, as the song title in the clue is meaningless to me. ISCHIA seems like a profound outlier today. Never heard of it. Turns out it's pretty damn small. But it's bigger than adjacent CAPRI, which I *have* heard of. Also bigger than adjacent PROCIDA, which I haven't. So ISCHIA (5D: Tourist island in the Gulf of Naples) made me laugh with its desperate exoticness. So at least I laughed. Once. SHA LA LA (la).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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