01.31 Mon

M O N D A Y January 31, 2011
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Hot Hot Hot — The last word of each theme phrase can precede the word "alarm" in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Exec's perk (COMPANY CAR).
  • 23A: Tempts fate, in a way (PLAYS WITH FIRE).
  • 50A: Second in a Sue Grafton series (B IS FOR BURGLAR).
  • 61A: Fairly spicy, as chili (and like this puzzle, literally, based on the ends of 17-, 23- and 50-Across) (THREE-ALARM).
Really smooth Monday puzzle today. Highlights for me include: FALAFEL, AT FIRST, and TAILBACK. Cute theme. It's unfortunate that you can't really do much with the word "alarm." I mean, an alarm is pretty much just one thing, so we're not gonna see three different types of alarms in the theme phrases. But I've always found chili's "three-alarm" designation pretty humorous and it is, in fact, how I prefer my chili, so overall I'm gonna give this one a thumbs up.

  • 10A: Dog bugger (FLEA). I thought for a minute there might be a word for "dog boogers." But that would be gross.
  • 16A: Bee, to Andy (AUNT). Before anyone says it: Yes, that is how Aunt Bee spells her name.
  • 19A: Adriatic resort (LIDO).

  • 29A: Actor Diggs (TAYE). I've seen the name, but I don't know who this is. Let me look it up. … Hm. Okay, he played the young stud in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." I read the book, but didn't see the movie. Now he's on TV in a show called "Private Practice" that's apparently a spin-off of "Gray's Anatomy." So now you know.
  • 33A: Actress Cheryl (LADD). Cheryl LADD, on the other hand, I knew right off the bat. "Good morning, angels!"
  • 38A: One in an extra-large baby carriage, perhaps (TRIPLET). Yikes. There's a set of first-grade triplets at PuzzleDaughter's school. That just seems insane to me.
  • 57A: Horn for a Muppet named Zoot (SAX). For some reason, I read this as "Mom for a Muppet named Zoot." I'm not familiar with this particular Muppet. Does he wear a zoot suit?
  • 7D: Avian chatterbox (MACAW). I tried MYNAH first.
  • 12D: Biblical witch's home (ENDOR). I thought the phrase "The Witches of Endor" was something, but I think I'm getting that confused with "The Witches of Eastwick." ENDOR is only known to me in the context of Star Wars. And using the word known might be a slight exaggeration. Is it a forest? Is it where the ewoks live? I feel like that girl on that video.
  • 18D: R&B artist with the 2006 #1 hit "So Sick" (NE-YO). CAn't say I'm familiar with this particular artist. Seems quite un-Monday-ish, but the crosses are all solid.
  • 35D: Perpetrator (DOER). I can't really picture anyone using the word DOER besides Andy Sipowicz.
  • 63D: '70s TV boss of Mary, Ted and Murray (LOU). More TV right in my sweet spot. The Mary Tyler Moore show.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 15A: Pastry served au rhum (BABA).
  • 68A: Eyelid woe (STYE).
  • 27D: Score after deuce (AD IN).
  • 58D: Jason's vessel (ARGO).
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Everything Else 1A: Dissolves into a puddle (MELTS); 6A: Firing range rounds (AMMO); 14A: Audibly astonished (AGASP); 20A: Sixth sense letters (ESP); 21A: Tableland (MESA); 22A: Conestoga, e.g. (WAGON); 27A: God of manly beauty (APOLLO); 30A: "Saturday Night Fever" dance genre (DISCO); 31A: Bogus plan (SCAM); 37A: Acolyte's suffix (-IST); 41A: Angus's greeting (MOO); 42A: Space Shuttle gp. (NASA); 44A: Feb. 14 (V-DAY); 45A: Colorado resort (ASPEN); 47A: "Of __ I Sing" (THEE); 49A: Mideast fleet (OILERS); 55A: One more time (AGAIN); 56A: "Trick" or "treat" (VERB); 60A: Defame (SLUR); 64A: Charged particles (IONS); 65A: Feathery wraps (BOAS); 66A: Dance in a line (CONGA); 67A: Layer of paint (COAT); 69A: Praise (KUDOS); 1D: Nutmeg spice (MACE); 2D: Boardroom clashers (EGOS); 3D: Streetlight supports (LAMP POSTS); 4D: 1/6 fl. oz. (TSP.); 5D: Musical with the song "The Holy Grail" (SPAMALOT); 6D: Bottomless pit (ABYSS); 8D: Wharton deg. (MBA); 9D: Galley mover (OAR); 10D: Pita filling (FALAFEL); 11D: "Super Mario" brother (LUIGI); 13D: Do penance (ATONE); 22D: "For what reason?" ("WHY?"); 24D: Partnership letters (LLC); 25D: Country with a da Vinci drawing on its one-euro coin (ITALY); 26D: Docile (TAME); 28D: Galileo's birthplace (PISA); 31D: Flip of a hit single (SIDE B); 32D: IRS audit rep (CPA); 34D: Barnes & Noble link? (AMPERSAND); 36D: Crime bosses (DONS); 39D: Winnebago owner, briefly (RV'ER); 40D: NFL ball carrier, often (TAILBACK); 43D: In the beginning (AT FIRST); 46D: Gp. that abducted Patty Hearst (SLA); 48D: Sweetie (HON); 49D: Meanie (OGRE); 50D: Rudimentary (BASIC); 51D: Inuit home (IGLOO); 52D: Sweat box? (SAUNA); 53D: Sun danger (UV RAY); 54D: Witherspoon of "Walk the Line" (REESE); 59D: Dec. holiday (XMAS); 61D: "Very funny" TV station (TBS); 62D: In vogue (HOT).


mac said...

Yes, smooth Monday for me, too. I guess a birthday alarm could be included, it has helped me out a few times.

Another foodie puzzle, with melts, falafel, spam, mace (isn't that the skin around the nutmeg?), and somehow Italy, Pisa and Luigi make me think of pizza.


The LAT has been running some pretty darn good early-week puzzles recently, but this was not one of them. For me it was just a little too easy, had too much crosswordese, and bad entries.
I didn't like seeing the singular form of UVRAY for "Sun danger".
Also, I hate vague clues for VERB (and NOUN in some CWs), like "Trick or treat"... just nasty.
We've whacked on OILERS before.
Never did like seeing XMAS for CHRISTmas in a puzzle (or anywhere).
I've never heard of Valentine's Day being called V-DAY. I thought V-DAY stood for Victory-Day.
Not a big fan of NE-YO and I think this is the first time I've seen it used in a puzzle.

I didn't notice the theme until I came here. Maybe I would have appreciated this puzzle more if I did.

A few things made me chuckle though:
Seeing SAUNA right next to IGLOO ... MELTS!
Seeing the clue "Angus's greeting" (MOO).

WOTD: FALAFEL (I knew what it is, but never knew how to spell it).

I think a better clue for EGOS would have been "crossworders".

Getting a little weary of seeing those Sue Grafton clues... S is for "Stop-it !"

I just bought a new car... yes, one of those gas-guzzling SUVs (I know, hanging head in shame). Yikes! The cost today makes "Sticker-shock" a household word. Long gone is that wonderful thing called a COMPANY CAR.

Overall, I think I'd rate this Levin puzzle a C+.

BABA au rhum ... yumm!

Back to solving yesterday's puzzle.

Avg Joe said...

Easy for me too. Perhaps even too easy, but Hey, it's Monday. Thanks for the writeup, PG. And I hope the incoming storm isn't as brutal as the last few. Light freezing rain in SE NE this morning with 4-7" of snow predicted by Tuesday night.

Concerning the video you embedded, I have to make a shameless plug. If you are at all a Boz Scaggs fan and have a home theater setup, you have to own that DVD, "Boz Scaggs Greatest Hits Live". I'm not a big fan of vid's (only have 2), but that one is fantastic.


Thanks puzzlegirl, for that ENDOR thing and the video clip of the Star Wars recap. That was cute.

I agree with you about the clue for DOER.

I see LIDO used again in today's puzzle. That was a stumper for me both today and yesterday.

Sfingi said...

Easy, though I never heard of TAYE or NEYO.

VDAY and XMAS might be a mini-theme. I've never seen VDAY and thought we might be going toward a rebus with a heart symbol. But, @John, isn't that VJ-Day or VE-Day (Victory in Japan or Europe)?

Agree with @John on VERB - lame.

Wasn't sure if ANGUS would be a MOO, BAA or NAE.

General comment - hate it when musicians and singers are called artists.

Bottom line, the puzzle did what it should on a Mon. - made it possible to totally solve with crosses and no Googling.

Anonymous said...

V-Day reminds me of D-Day, which, in a lot of relationships, it is (for the guys, anyway)...

Anonymous said...

Tate Diggs was the piano player/Narrator in the movie "Chicago". I believe he started on Broadway. Multi-talented guy and easy on the eyes.

Rube said...

Had 2 writeovers today: MACAW/MynAH, and APOLLO/AdOnis. Still think Adonis is the better answer. As I read somewhere, Adonis has a better squeal factor.

Never heard of TAYE or NEYO... both later in the week words, IMO.

@JNH, Xmas is a well accepted abbreviation as early Christians were heavily into symbolism and often used X, (Greek chi), to denote Christ.

Good, pleasant Monday fare.

playon said...

easy on the eyes 100% i saw it

Joon said...

TAYE diggs did indeed start on broadway, most famously in the original cast of rent. he was also in the movie version, because they wanted to get as many of the original cast members as they could... which ended up being a bit strange, because they billed it as "starring rosario dawson and taye diggs." dawson is one of the few actors who wasn't in the original broadway show (the original mimi, daphne rubin-vega, was pregnant at the time the movie was made). diggs was a headliner because he was the only original cast member to subsequently become famous(-ish) in hollywood, but actually played a supporting role. so.

now i feel like musical-trivia guy, which is weird because i'm not.

liked the puzzle. i could definitely go for a bowl of chili right now.

SethG said...

I didn't know Ne-Yo either, but the dude's currently active, has 4 different top-ten albums in the last few years, a few number one songs (and a few more written for other artists), and has won 3 Grammies. I think we'll see him again.

*David* said...

I always get a visceral shudder when I see any hint that is connected to the Sue Grafton books but this time with the entire title being written out I felt a bit better. Had a chile burger last night for the first time in six months so this puzzle was apropos.

I think we all agreed that there is no such thing as a too easy puzzle on a Monday.

mary lynn said...

Ogden Nash said:

A one l lama he's a priest
A two l llama he's a beast
But I will bet my bottom dolla
there is no such thing as
a three l lllama

C said...

Monday, OK puzzle. I enjoyed the full Sue Grafton title in the puzzle. A first sighting of this SG book title usage for me though I am sure not the first in crossword puzzledom.

Anonymous said...

Musical with the song "The Holy Grail"??? I am a musical theater fanatic, and Spamalot does NOT have a song called "The Holy Grail." It has a song called "Find Your Grail." (I still knew what musical they were talking about, but was peeved that they got the name of the song wrong.) Fact checking needed...

Joon said...

that song is called "find your grail," but spamalot also has a song called "The Holy Grail." it's the penultimate song in act 2.

oh man, now i really AM turning into musical-trivia guy.

Anonymous said...

ok. ok. I just looked it up and I stand corrected. Spamalot has a musical number called "The Holy Grail," which apparently was in the show but not included on the original cast recording. "Find Your Grail," on the other hand, is the showstopping number at the end of the first act, and that was the song the cast sang at the Tony awards. One of those is a little more crossword worthy than the other...

Vega said...

Somehow I had you pegged as totally clued-in to pop culture, PG, so I was gratified that you too didn't know Ne-Yo or Taye Diggs.

This felt like a just-right Monday puzzle. Wondering if Spamalot is worth seeing. I'm a huge MP fan and don't want to ruin it.

Larry S said...

I was in synch, or better, out of synch together with @Rube on the two answers MACAW/MynAH, and APOLLO/AdOnis. And I agree that Adonis is a better match for the clue.

@mary lynn, excellent literary allusion ; )

The theme-reveal clue 61A is not well worded. After a bunch of head scratching I see that this is literally a THREE-ALARM puzzle. But 'literally' in the clue directs me back to 'spicy' i.e. literally spicy, which destroys the thought. The parenthesis should perhaps read "and what this puzzle literally is, based on ..."

Larry S said...

Thus that clue is something like a false alarm.

Elvin said...

If you've memorized the song titles on the cast recording of Spamalot then maybe "Find Your Grail" seems worthier, but for what I'd say is the large majority of solvers, those who haven't, "The Holy Grail" seems more easily inferrable. I don't know either song, but I had no problem coming up with the musical.

Anonymous said...

Hornblower fans will recall that the "Witch of Endor" (see 12D) was the cutter that Hornblower commandeered to escape from France.

Duane said...

Now we know where Bewitched's(Samantha)mother got her name from. Her name was Endora.

John Wolfenden said...

I feel like RP today...OILERS, DOER and RVER in the same puzzle? C'mon.

Of course, I did learn the origin of the word ENDOR. Look at Lawrence Kasdan dropping some Old Testament references!

And it was kinda cool that I was actually eating chili while solving THREE ALARM CHILI.

mac said...

That Joon, who knew.

Have to admit to thinking of Adonis, first, too.

Avg Joe said...

I don't have to admit I was thinking of Adonis, and won't. (Not sayin' it's wrong, just wasn't thinking of it:-)

But I will admit that I tried Mynah first, even if it was wrong. I'll also admit that I wasn't sure how to spell Falafel, but I sure do like it. Endor....no clue, but with the crosses it fit, and there was no good reason to doubt it. Who knew that was Samantha's mother??

Last, I put my hand up for never seeing a Sue Grafton clue that included the entire title. Kinda liked that.

Be safe everyone. It's ugly out there tonight.

Nighthawk said...

@mary lynn, Ogden was not entirely correct. In keeping with today's puz, a "three L lama" is a very hot and spicy bowl of chili (or a major fire) in Brooklyn.

@PG thanks for the "Witches of Eastwick" pic. Fun flic. Better book. Got ENDOR on crosses but when I saw it, like many commentors, I was reminded of Bewitched.

Eric said...

Zero-alarm theme today. It left me totally cold.

Hands up for ADONIS instead of APOLLO. We puzzlers aren't the first to connect the two; the "Apollo" Star Trek episode was titled Who Mourns for Adonais?.

I didn't fall down the MYNAH shaft, though; I had a cross or two by the time I got there. But I had B-SIDE instead of SIDE B -- and I still think my way is more in the language -- or was, when 45s themselves were in the culture.

"Angus's greeting" -> MOO: I like it!

My beef with "'Trick' or 'treat'" -> VERB is that they can both be nouns too.

OILERS should have been clued for Wayne Gretzky. (OMG, did I just say that?!?)

@Vega: Yes, Spamalot is definitely worth seeing for a Python fan. It owes enough to Holy Grail that you have no doubt of its origins, but at the same time, there's a lot of new material, and they take things off in new, Pythonesquely bizarre directions. I was afraid I'd sit their for two hours thinking "been there, seen that", but I was very pleasantly surprised. (Along with the usual CDs and T-shirts, their merch counters sell souvenir coconut shells :-) I'm still kicking myself for not buying a pair for my collection of percussion toys.)


Eric said...


Bad Eric. Bad, bad, naughty Eric!

Raven said...

I've missed you pg! Good Monday puzzle. Loved falafel. Reminded me.of the place down the street from my college that sold falafels for a dollar to anyone with a student id. I would have starved without them.