Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, The Wi-Fi Is Down

There are spoilers ahead. You might want to solve today's puzzle before reading further! The Wi-Fi Is Down

Constructor: Kiran Pandey

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

May 24, 2024
May 24, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • WINTER FIELDS (4D: Andrew Wyeth painting of a frozen landscape) Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) was an American painter whose favorite subjects were the people and land around him. His 1942 painting, WINTER FIELDS, depicts a dead, frozen crow amidst a landscape of FIELDS. He found the crow near his home in Pennsylvania, and took it to his studio to study it and paint it in detail. WINTER FIELDS is on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

  • WILLIAM FINN (18D: "Falsettos" composer) The musical Falsettos by WILLIAM FINN premiered on Broadway in 1992. It won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score. WILLIAM FINN's other musicals include A New Brain (1998) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005).

  • WINGNUT FILMS (22D: "The Lord of the Rings" production company) WINGNUT FILMS is a New Zealand production company. In addition to The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), their movies include The Lovely Bones (2009), The Hobbit (2012-2014), and The Beatles: Get Back (2021).

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • TRIO (33A: The Jonas Brothers, e.g.) The Jonas Brothers are the pop rock TRIO of Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas. They released their sixth album last year. It's appropriately titled, The Album.

  • EGGOS (35A: Frozen waffles originally called "Froffles") Froffles is a portmanteau of "frozen" and "waffles." Okay, I am now imagining commercials with people saying, "Let go my Froffle!"

  • URSA (46A: ___ Major (constellation)) URSA Major, also known as the Great Bear, is a constellation visible in the northern sky. Its main seven stars form the Big Dipper. As I mentioned yesterday, the Big Dipper is featured on Alaska's flag, along with Polaris, the North Star.

  • NEW DELHI (51A: Capital home to the Lotus Temple) NEW DELHI is the capital of India. The Lotus Temple is a Bahá'í Temple dedicated in 1986. The building is shaped like a flower, composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad "petals."

  • BONO (57A: "Reboot Camp" actor Chaz) The 2020 movie Reboot Camp is a mockumentary about a fake self-help group. Chaz BONO is part of the ensemble cast, and portrays the character of Herbert.

  • DIP (66A: Nam chim or guacamole) Nam chim is Thai for "dipping sauce," and can refer to a variety of such sauces in Thai cuisine. Guacamole is an avocado-based DIP that originated in Mexico.

  • EDAMAME (68A: Soybean dish aka maodou) EDAMAME ("stem beans") is the Japanese name for the dish also known by the Chinese name maodou ("fur peas"). Either name refers to immature soybeans boiled or steamed in the pod.

  • AUSTIN (71A: Texas city home to the Mexic-Arte Museum) The Mexic-Arte Museum in AUSTIN, Texas was founded in 1984. The museum features Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art.

  • OREO (3D: Cookie in a CollegeHumor sketch) CollegeHumor is an Internet comedy company that produces content for YouTube. The CollegeHumor OREO sketch is basically seven minutes of explaining why there's no need for OREO to continue to produce new varieties, because they've already made the perfect cookie. I see the point, but crossword constructors are generally thankful for all the OREO varieties that provide clueing angles for this crossword-friendly word.

  • LATIN (10D: "Bona fide" language) "Bona fide" is a LATIN phrase meaning "in good faith."

  • STL (14D: Lemp Mansion city (Abbr.)) Lemp Mansion is a historic building in St. Louis (STL), Missouri. It was built in the early 1860s, and is currently an operational inn and restaurant. The Lemp family operated the Lemp Brewery in St. Louis from 1840-1920. (The brewery was acquired by another company in 1920, and eventually became Falstaff Brewing Corporation.) Lemp Mansion was the family home until 1949. The building is often included in lists of "Spookiest Buildings," and has been featured on the TV shows Ghost Hunters (2010) and Ghost Adventures (2014).

  • GARR (36D: Actress Teri) Teri GARR's acting career spanned six decades. Her filmography is extensive, and includes Young Frankenstein (1974), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Tootsie (1982). She retired from acting in 2011. Teri GARR's 2011 autobiography, Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood details her career and her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

  • ERIE (40D: Great Lake named for a Native people) The ERIE people lived in the Great Lakes region along the southern shore of Lake ERIE. In the mid-17th century, warfare with the neighboring Iroquois forced most of the tribe to leave the area. Lake ERIE and ERIE, Pennsylvania are named for the ERIE people. This is the third appearance this month for our crossword-friend ERIE.

  • NASSAU (50D: Capital of the Bahamas) The Bahamas is a country in the West Indies comprised of more than 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Around 30 of the islands are inhabited. Located on the island of New Providence, NASSAU is the capital and largest city of The Bahamas.

  • ERNIE (52D: Muppet who sings "One Fine Face") "One Fine Face" is a Sesame Street song performed by Ernie and Elmo. The song describes the parts of the face. My favorite line of the song is, "I've got a chin but what a chin / does I just can't tell."

  • WRAPS (53D: Shawarma, ssam, etc.) Shawarma is a dish in Middle Eastern cuisine consisting of thinly sliced meat stacked in a cone-like shape and roasted on a spit. Shawarma is often served wrapped in pita bread. Ssam is a bite-sized lettuce WRAP in Korean cuisine.

  • ODE (58D: "___ to a Grasshopper" (Pedro Pietri poem)) Pedro Pietri (1944-2004) was a Nuyorican poet and playwright. Nuyorican is a portmanteau of "New York" and Puerto Rican," and is used by some Puerto Ricans living in New York City. You can read Pedro Pietri's poem, "ODE to a Grasshopper," on the Poetry Foundation website. I enjoy this ODE, and I recommend it.

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • WINTER FIELDS (4D: Andrew Wyeth painting of a frozen landscape)

  • WILLIAM FINN (18D: Falsettos composer)

  • WINGNUT FILMS (22D: "The Lord of the Rings" production company)

In each vertical (DOWN) answer, the first word starts with WI, and the second word starts with FI: WINTER FIELDS, WILLIAM FINN, and WINGNUT FILMS.

This is a fun and clever theme, though I admit the words, "THE WI-FI IS DOWN," make me a tad anxious. All of the theme answers today were new to me, and I am happy to learn about them. Congratulations to Kiran Pandey making a USA TODAY debut! Thank you, Kiran, for this enjoyable puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for May 24, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher