WEDNESDAY, April 21, 2010—Donna S. Levin

THEME: "Would You Keep It Down Out There?!?"—This puzzle wants to know what all the noise is, and provides plenty of it

Theme entries:
  • 17A. [Consequence of the subprime mortgage fiasco] is the REAL ESTATE CRASH. Crashes are indeed loud. Yesterday when I picked my son up after school, a few of the yellow buses ful of kids managed to crash. Everyone was OK, but one bus needed to be towed, one kid got checked out at the ER, a bunch of school staff lost their afternoons, and 100 kids were two hours late getting home that day. As for me and my kid, we enjoyed the sunshine, the playground, and watching all the emergency vehicles (seven!) on site.
  • 25A. [Exit spectacularly] clues GO OUT WITH A BANG.
  • 42A. [Punished severely, with "on"] is LOWERED THE BOOM.
  • 55A. [Complaint from one trying to concentrate, perhaps—and this puzzle's title] clues "WHAT'S THAT RACKET?"

I like Donna's clueing style—they're not the super-tough tricky clues I'm so fond of, since she mostly does puzzles in the easy-to-medium range, but they've got panache. Among my favorite clues are these ones:
  • 10A. [One of Hammett's Charleses] is NORA, of Nick and Nora Charles and their dog Asta fame. Never read those stories, never saw any of hte movies. But I did love the entirely unrelated movie, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

  • 20A. ESS is a "meh" answer, but [Start of something?] sounds like something more interesting.
  • 36A. [Blin, in Blois] is almost incomprehensible. The plural of blin is blini (which feels much more familiar to me), and a single blin is essentially a CREPE. Blois must be some place where French is spoken, but I can't say I've ever heard of it. Oddball words in a standard alliteration clue—not the usual.
  • 51A. [Hit or miss?] is a VERB. Yep, I usually fall for the clues that want you to come up with VERB or RHYME or SYNONYM but use words that have another meaning that sits in the forefront, distracting you.
  • 6D. [Zippy watercraft] is a JETSKI. I love the word "zippy."
  • 7D. Trivia clue: [Like about 20% of Israeli citizens today] means ARAB.
  • 24D. [Engage in retail therapy?] clues SHOP. I don't shop for therapy. I shop because I want to acquire things.
  • 36D. More trivia: The CORVETTE is a [Sports car named for a small warship].
  • 41D. [They usually have strings attached] refers to the noun TEA BAGS. Strings literally, not figuratively.
  • 53D. [Things for hanging things] are PEGS. I'm always glad to skip a [Cribbage scorekeeper] clue.

My favorite answer is BEEFCAKE (9D: [Stud muffin photos]), though I prefer chocolate cake when it comes to dessert.

I remember OINGO Boingo (27D: [New Wave band __ Boingo]) from early-'80s MTV. Apparently their biggest song was from the 1985 movie Weird Science, which I never saw because I was by then a sophisticated college student who didn't want to watch movies for teens. Lots of troubling psychosexual issues are at play in the video (and, I hear, the movie). You know Danny Elfman, who composed the theme to The Simpsons and has scored movies? He was in Oingo Boingo.

Crosswordese 101: Rex has previously covered the word ORIEL (26D: [Bay window]). Is there any long-time solver of crosswords who doesn't store ORIEL and OSIER in the same part of their brain?

Everything Else — 1A: Harpsichord relative (PIANO); 6A: Doorframe part (JAMB); 10A: One of Hammett's Charleses (NORA); 14A: Aggressive poker bet (ALL IN); 15A: Spooky-sounding lake (ERIE); 16A: Musician Clapton (ERIC); 17A: Consequence of the subprime mortgage fiasco (REAL ESTATE CRASH); 20A: Start of something? (ESS); 21A: Accident investigation agcy. (NTSB); 22A: Lowly assistant (FLUNKY); 23A: Swindle (ROOK); 24A: Move quickly, as clouds (SCUD); 25A: Exit spectacularly (GO OUT WITH A BANG); 31A: Get out of bed (ARISE); 32A: Hunan pans (WOKS); 33A: Consume (EAT); 35A: Cellar stock (WINE); 36A: Blin, in Blois (CREPE); 38A: Chip's buddy (DALE); 39A: Frat party staple (KEG); 40A: Mindless repetition (ROTE); 41A: Championship (TITLE); 42A: Punished severely, with "on" (LOWERED THE BOOM); 46A: Guns (REVS); 47A: Word after open or seven (SEAS); 48A: Take big steps (STRIDE); 51A: Hit or miss? (VERB); 52A: Special __: military force (OPS); 55A: Complaint from one trying to concentrate, perhapsóand this puzzle's title (WHAT'S THAT RACKET); 58A: Aqueduct feature (ARCH); 59A: Lob (TOSS); 60A: Narrow canyon (GORGE); 61A: Cook in the microwave (NUKE); 62A: Fencer's weapon (ÉPÉE); 63A: Tic, e.g. (SPASM); 1D: Peel (PARE); 2D: Martinique et RÈunion (ILES); 3D: "__, poor Yorick!": Hamlet (ALAS); 4D: Zilch (NIL); 5D: Musically monotonous (ONE-NOTE); 6D: Zippy watercraft (JET SKI); 7D: Like about 20% of Israeli citizens today (ARAB); 8D: Univ. near Harvard (MIT); 9D: Stud muffin photos (BEEFCAKE); 10D: Chilean poet Pablo (NERUDA); 11D: Algerian seaport (ORAN); 12D: Game played on a world map (RISK); 13D: Sore (ACHY); 18D: Store in a hold (STOW); 19D: Clover-shaped suit (CLUBS); 23D: Artful stratagem (RUSE); 24D: Engage in retail therapy? (SHOP); 25D: Stare in wonder (GAWK); 26D: Bay window (ORIEL); 27D: New Wave band __ Boingo (OINGO); 28D: Tammany Hall name (TWEED); 29D: "Peachy keen!" ("NEATO!"); 30D: Carlo Rossi winemaker (GALLO); 34D: Be rife (with) (TEEM); 36D: Sports car named for a small warship (CORVETTE); 37D: Info in AAA TripTiks (RTES.); 38D: "That's mine!" (DIBS); 40D: Saxes and oboes (REEDS); 41D: They usually have strings attached (TEABAGS); 43D: Twist in pain (WRITHE); 44D: Scary African fly (TSE-TSE); 45D: Frau's spouse (HERR); 48D: Ugly duckling, actually (SWAN); 49D: Drive-__ window (THRU); 50D: Pinion partner (RACK); 51D: Still life subject (VASE); 52D: Gumbo pod (OKRA); 53D: Things for hanging things (PEGS); 54D: Stern's opposite (STEM); 56D: Emulate Kanga (HOP); 57D: Radar gun aimer (COP).



Speedy puzzle, but NEATO.
Can’t believe I said that, because I’m really of the “Peachy keen!” generation. My kids always said NEATO.

But I did enjoy doing this puzzle… lots of fun clues.

As much as I like Nick and NORA (and ASTA), I got stuck on that cross because I didn’t know NERUDA. I wrote in CORA. Duh!

Thanks, Orange, for the OINGO-Boingo clip. I had totally forgotten about that band. Also brings back memories of DEVO. Maybe that’s not a good thing.

This clip is just for ORANGE

When I entered 24A, SCUD, all I could think of were those sleepless nights during the Gulf War and the SCUD missles. Ugh!

“Drive-THRU window”, now that would make a big CRASH, BANG, BOOM sound. Now why isn’t it called a drive-by window?

What we used to call my “Musically monotonous” son, John, whenever he sang. He’s now a famous trumpeter. Go figure!

I hate clues like 20A, ESS for “Start of something”.

I was gonna insert a photo of me for BEEFCAKE… nah! You don’t wanna ruin your breakfast!!!!

Speaking of breakfast, I think I’ll go have a “Blin”.

Have a fun day, y’all!

Zeke said...

Just because this is one of my pet peeves,there was only one book, "The Thin Man", and the thin man was the victim in the story, not Nick Charles.
Should anyone have an urge to actually read "The Thin Man" should do so only after reading all of Chandler's works. Your time would be better spent doing so.

Anonymous said...

Fun blog. I just found itthis mornng. I have oneacross on my phone, but I wanted to get the background on the answers too. I book marked you page. Thanks!

huh said...

@Orange - if 7 emergency vehicles showed up, clearly someone thought there were potentially serious injuries. Regardless, a lot of people sounded like they had a pretty crappy afternoon. That does sound like it'd be fun to watch from the playground in the sunshine.

*David* said...

Oingo Boingo's most enduring hit was Dead Man's Party. The Weird Science song is pretty bad and it gets all the press. They were well known for their Halloween concerts in LA. Elfman has now become an accomplished scorer of movies, he does a lot of the Tim Burton flicks.

The only fill that I didn't know or should I say remember was Pablo NERUDA but I have seen him before. Monday-Wednesday has become pretty interchangeable in difficulty, I don't feel much of a difference.

Tinbeni said...

I did the Cora before NORA fix also.
NERUDA was new, always a plus.

The rest of the puzzle just filled itself ALL IN.

Liked the stack, ONENOTE REEDS. ALAS, it would be my complete musical ability.

C said...

I enjoyed the cluing in today's puzzle. Different clues for standard answers.

Weird Science is one of my oft quoted movies. I won't say that it has aged well, i.e. still as funny as when I first saw it, but there are scenes in it that grow on you. Needless to say, Oingo Boingo isn't the reason I remember the film. Also, using yet more of my useless trivia, Jenna Elfman (Dharma from Dharma&Greg) is married to Danny Elfman's nephew. There you go, Weird Science to Dharma&Greg in two steps.

Tuttle said...

I liked the CORVETTE clue. Oddly enough, that type of ship is the continental European term for what English-speaking nations call an 'escort' (or 'frigate' more recently and 'sloop' in times past) which is also a car name, but hardly a sports car (albeit they could be quite quick in rally homologation trim).

Triumph Spitfire roadsters were named for the airplanes, but the airplanes were named for a warship of the Elizabethan era when such combination names were popular (Swiftsure, Warspite, Dreadnaught, etc.).

There's a few other sports cars that share names with warships, but they really share inspiration rather than title; Tiger, Cayman, Challenger, Sprite, Scimitar, Mistral, etc.

'Roadster' itself is a nautical term for a ship laid up in a small inlet or road (as in Hampton Roads), but that's not the sense here. And the Italian term for a small, topless two-seater is 'barchetta', or 'little boat'.

mac said...

Very easy but nice puzzle.

When I studied Spanish for a while a Chilean friend gave me a little book of Neruda's poetry. It was surprisingly easy to understand, the words at least.

I'm getting some shopping done online this afternoon, but not retail. It's findings for my jewelry design, at Rio Grande, and hopefully I'll pay wholesale!

Rube said...

This seemed a little too easy for a Wednesday. Couldn't remember ORIEL, even when I had all but the L. Oh well, maybe the next time.

Had never heard of Chilean poet Pablo NERUDA, so Wikied him. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and is considered by some, (according to Wikipedia), to be "the greatest poet of the 20th Century in any language". Ah well, this engineer never did have an ear for poetry... except for ballads... love Robert Service.

What was the word that Rex coined a few weeks ago for trick clues like "Start of something" and "End of tension"? It was a conflation of two words and you knew immediately what it referred to.

I'm not sure about calling a GORGE a narrow canyon. I don't know anyone who would call the Columbia river gorge "narrow".

Never heard of OINGO Boingo but, like in any well constructed xword, easily gettable from the crosses.

@Orange, tx for the explanation of 36A, Blin, in Blois. I was thinking of CREPE paper. That R was my last letter.

bluebell said...

@Rube--I agree about Gorge. I would have said deep canyon perhaps.

Nora/Neruda was a Natick for me. And I had scut (for scuttle), but that's really a rabbit's tail isn't it?

Otherwise smooth sailing, with a chuckle at crash, bang, boom.

shrub5 said...

Very nice, smooth puzzle! New for me is the use of SCUD for move quickly, as clouds. Unfortunately, I only knew of scud missiles, so that word had to fill itself in through crosses. "Boss" TWEED (William Marcy), corrupt NY politician, was a name that didn't come to me right off. LOL at TEABAGS clue of strings attached.

CrazyCat said...

Thought this was a very enjoyable, albeit easy Donna Levin puzzle with a cute theme. I liked the juxtaposition of WINE over KEG. Also liked seeing BEEFCAKE and then a little later 38A Chip's buddy DALE. Had know idea what Blin, in Blois meant, but had the C, the R and the P so CREPE appeared and looks quite delicious right there in the middle of the grid. I'm leaving for a wine and culinary adventure tomorrow: San Francisco, Point Reyes and then across to Yountville in the Napa Valley. I will make sure to order CREPEs along the way. My only mistake was that I had SCUT for SCUD which made NERUDA into NERUTA. He is my WOTD.
@ Orange, thanks for the write up. I'm glad there were no serious injuries as a result of the bus CRASH. How scary.

Van55 said...

Unobjectionable puzzle, for the most part. Enjoyed it!

mac said...

@CrazyCatLady: Yountville? French Laundry?? I envy you.

CrazyCat said...

@Mac: Not doing French Laundry this time. We do have reservations at Ad Hoc, Keller's newish restaurant there. We'll be there for the fried chicken night. Also have reservations at Bottega, Michael Chiarello's new place. All within walking distance of the hotel. Yountville is an amazing little town. Have you been?

Tinbeni said...

Like the Lil'Abner avatar.

A narrow canyon can be a GORGE, but not all gorges are a narrow canyon.

CRASH, BANG, BOOM! That is the order of the phrase I remember. Probably the reason I like Donna Levin puzzles so much.

Just curious about something.
Is there a rule 'against' constructing a puzzle ONLY in English?

Sfingi said...

Never heard of OINGO Boingo. Looks like I didn't miss much.

@John - though I do like Devo.

Did not know that meaning of SCUD.

Got theme quickly. Double theme for the word racket. NEATO.

Remember, the names Chip and DALE - the chipmunks and the BEEFCAKE dancers, are a take-off of the high-falutin Chippendale furniture.
settee and chairs
@Tinbeni - tell us more about GORGEs, if it's about geology.

@Rube - NERUDA (not to be confused with Nasrudin) was the poet played by the late Phillipe Noiret followed by the "simple" postman played by the late Massimo Troisi in Il Postino (1995). I recommend it, if only for the beautiful Maria Grazia Cucinotta, whom the postman is trying to court. It was filmed in the Aeolian Islands, off Messina, Sicily.

@Zeke@Tuttle - Wow. Thanx, youse guys.


As well as Orange's informative writeup, I enjoyed reading all these meaty comments today. Little known facts (sprinkled with some humor)from @Tuttle, @Zeke, @David, @C, @Rube, and @Sfingi is what makes this blog so appealing to me. Thx guys!

Seeing GORGE in this puzzle reminded me of something that still makes me chuckle. There's a huge gift shop at the Royal Gorge... more of a kitsch souvenir place. You know, with the indian tom-toms, fur-lined potty chairs, cocoanut monkey heads, etc. And everything was outrageously expensive, because everything had "Royal Gorge" imprinted on it. Our kids dubbed it 'THE ROYAL GOUGE."

Rube said...

@Sfingi, I have a vague recollection of seeing Il Postino before. However, I've put it into my NetFlix queue, just in case. Your knowledge of "pinks" is amazing.

@Tinbeni, I figured after ~6 mos coming to Rex's show, I should get an avatar. (For an obvious reason I wanted to say "Rex's Roundhouse". Anyone from Akron here, is that building still a church, and is "that" Rex still around? I'd Google, but it's more fun this way.)

Tinbeni said...

What I know about GORGEs is from living in FLA. (LOL) None here, this state is as flat as a CREPE!

The Royal Gouge. What a hoot.
We have the ultimate of those, Disney World.
Also, thanks for that Scotch xword embed the other day. Missed it by only 6 years.

Earlier I should have said NEATO!
The NYT had NEAT, duh. and thanks.

Now on the subject of GORGEs:
Valles Marineris (Latin for Mariner Valleys, named after the Mariner 9 Mars orbiter of 1971–72 which discovered it) is a system that runs along the Martian surface east of the Tharsis region.
At more than 4,000 km long, 200 km wide and up to 7 km deep, the Valles Marineris rift system is larger than any of Earth's largest canyons, and is the largest known canyon in the solar system.

CrazyCat said...

@sfingi Saw Il Postino a few years back. Loved it.

Sfingi said...

@Rube - OK, but what are "pinks"?

@Tinbeni - We have gorges, the spooky, skinny, curvy kind that you don't want to get lost in in the winter or at night. Murderers favor them, seriously, from the Loomis Gang of yore to the Mafia. I advised Google maps not to consider route 51 between routes 5 and 20 a main road, but to be avoided at all costs.

They really can be beautiful, with a bubbling stream on one side and a high hairy wall on the other. And a rifle in between.

I have a sister in IA. It was measured and the difference between the highest and lowest spots are actually not as great as the same on a pancake.

Captcha - mingled, and actual word, not Jabberwock.

gespenst said...

Only problem for me was NERUDA/SCUD. I had neruTa/scuT ... I think I was thinking of scuttle, and since I didn't know NERUDA at all, the cross didn't help.

Funny about the Cora guesses ... the 'N' was the only thing I wrote in darkly b/c I knew it was Nick or Nora, it wouldn't occur to me to start w/ a different letter ;)

My favorite clue was the "Spooky-sounding lake" for ERIE.

Oh, and I managed NOT to write in GAWP for GAWK like I did last week or was it earlier this week. Why I am always thinking GAWP???? Is that even a word?

Loved the theme, enjoyed the puzzle.

CrazyCat said...

@gespenst: Had something very similar. It's very hard to cough when you have a temporary resident south of your ribs. All turned out well. Oops, off puzzle subject. My bad.