Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, Restart

There are spoilers ahead. You might want to solve today's puzzle before reading further! Restart

Constructor: Brad LeBeau

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

May 18, 2024
May 18, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • SAMIRA (8D: Actress Wiley) SAMIRA Wiley portrays Moira Strand in the Hulu TV series, The Handmaid's Tale. For this role, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. SAMIRA Wiley also portrayed Poussey Washington in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black (2013-2019).

  • THAI (59D: Mu kratha cuisine) Mu kratha is a cooking method that originated in THAI cuisine, and has spread to other Southeast Asian countries, where it is referred to as mookata (Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia) and sindad (Laos). Mu kratha involves cooking meat and vegetables at the table in a pot set over burning charcoal.

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • CLARO (1A: "___ que si!" (Spanish "Certainly!")) My Spanish is minimal and rusty, so I needed the help of crossing answers to uncover this answer. CLARO is the Spanish word for "clear," and the phrase "CLARO que si!" means "Certainly!" or "Of course!"

  • ROMAN EMPIRE (19A: Random thing that a person thinks about all the time, in slang) In the last couple of years, there has been a trend on Instagram and TikTok of people (usually women) asking others (usually the men in their lives) "How often do you think about the ROMAN EMPIRE?" Apparently some people (mostly men) think about the ROMAN EMPIRE a lot. This has led to ROMAN EMPIRE being used to refer to something a person thinks about often. What's your ROMAN EMPIRE?

  • RENEWABLE ENERGY (39A: Hydropower, e.g.) In addition to hydropower, other types of RENEWABLE ENERGY are solar energy, wind power, bioenergy, and geothermal power.

  • SONNET (42A: Poem such as "Love Is Not All") A SONNET is a poem of 14 lines with a specific rhyme scheme and structure. "Love Is Not All" also known as "SONNET XXX," is a 1931 poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). The poem is one of a collection of 52 SONNETs published in the collection, Fatal Interview. "Love Is Not All," was written during the Great Depression. It challenges the idea that love can conquer all. "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink / Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain..."

  • ONO (63A: "Eyeblink" artist Yoko) Yoko ONO is an artist and activist. "Eyeblink" is a 1966 art piece by Yoko ONO. It is a short film featuring a closeup of Yoko ONO's eye. The film was shot using a high-speed camera, and is projected at normal speed, creating a slow-motion effect.

  • SACHA (64A: Actor ___ Baron Cohen) SACHA Baron Cohen is a comedian known for his creation of fictional satirical personas that interact with unsuspecting subjects. SACHA Baron Cohen co-wrote and starred in the 2020 movie Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The movie, a sequel to SACHA Baron Cohen's 2006 movie, and known for obvious reasons as Borat 2, features his fictional character Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakh journalist and TV personality.

  • ERA (9D: Chunk of a Taylor Swift concert) Following the release of her most recent album, The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor Swift added a new ERA to her ERAs Tour.

  • BANYAN TREE (10D: Fig-producing plant that's a symbol of India) The BANYAN TREE is one of 750 species of fig TREEs. BANYAN TREEs are sometimes referred to as strangler figs because they grow from seeds that land on other TREEs. The BANYAN TREE roots smother the host TREE and grow into pillars resembling a new TREE trunk. BANYAN TREEs are the world's largest TREE in terms of the area covered. The largest banyan TREE, in Andhra Pradesh in India, covers 4.7 acres! The BANYAN TREE is the national TREE of India, and is also an important symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

  • DRESDEN (15D: German city home to the Albertinum) DRESDEN is a city in the eastern part of Germany, located on the banks of the Elbe river. The Albertinum is an art museum in DRESDEN, which is named after King Albert of Saxony.

  • RED VELVET (21D: Colorful cake type) RED VELVET cake is a chocolate layered cake. Traditional RED VELVET cakes derive their reddish hue from the type of cocoa used. Some newer recipes call for the addition of red food coloring or beet juice to enhance the color.

  • A LA (35D: Pollo ___ brasa) Pollo A LA brasa is also known as pollo asado, blackened chicken, or charcoal chicken. The dish, which is a variety of rotisserie chicken, is associated with Peruvian cuisine.

  • DYAN (38D: "The Last of Sheila" actress Cannon) The Last of Sheila is a 1973 whodunnit mystery written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim. The premise of the movie is that a year after his wife, Sheila, is killed by a hit-and-run driver, a wealthy widow invites a group of friends to spend a week on his yacht playing a scavenger hunt mystery game. If you're familiar with the whodunnit genre, you can see where this is headed. DYAN Cannon starred alongside Richard Benjamin, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, James Mason, Ian McShane, and Raquel Welch.

  • GENOA (52D: Type of salami named for an Italian city) GENOA is a city located along the coast in northern Italy. GENOA salami takes its name from the city, where it is believed to have originated. The pork (and sometimes veal) sausage is seasoned with garlic, salt, peppercorns, and wine.

  • OMAHA (54D: Nebraska city where Gabrielle Union was born) Gabrielle Union is an actress, voice actor, activist, and author. She played the lead character in the TV series, Being Mary Jane. As the clue informs us, Gabrielle Union was born in OMAHA, Nebraska.

  • UBE (61D: Purple yam in halo-halo) UBE is a species of yam with a vivid purple color. UBE is used in Filipino cuisine, and can be added to the cold dessert halo-halo, which is made from crushed ice and evaporated milk. Halo-halo is the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines.

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • ROMAN EMPIRE (19A: Random thing that a person thinks about all the time, in slang)

  • RENEWABLE ENERGY (39A: Hydropower, e.g.)

  • ROUGH ESTIMATE (55A: Ball park figure)

Each theme answer has the initials R.E.: ROMAN EMPIRE, RENEWABLE ENERGY, and ROUGH ESTIMATE.

To figure out today's theme, the title needs to be parsed in a new way. Instead of RESTART, the title is parsed as R.E. START, indicating that the theme answers are phrases with the initials R.E. I especially like the choice of theme answers today. They are all interesting and familiar phrases. Congratulations to Brad LeBeau making a USA TODAY debut! Thank you, Brad, for this interesting puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for May 18, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher