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

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

Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

May 25, 2024
May 25, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • MANGA (1D: "What Did You Eat Yesterday?" genre) What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a MANGA series by Fumi Yoshinaga. The series is a "slice of life" series (one portraying everyday life) that focuses on the relationship of a middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo. Since 2007, What Did You Eat Yesterday? has been serialized in Morning, a weekly Japanese MANGA magazine. Many of the MANGA's chapters depict meals being prepared.

  • ORE (31D: Metallic resource in the game Beyond the Sun) According to the website, Board Game Geek, the game Beyond the Sun has players developing a "tech tree to fuel new discoveries and colonize space." This game is new to me, but the answer was fairly inferable, as ORE is a resource in other board games I have played.

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • NBA (8A: Golden State Warriors' org.) The Golden State Warriors are an NBA (National Basketball Association) team based in San Francisco, California. The abbreviation of the word organization in the clue alerts solvers the answer will be an abbreviation.

  • NAAN (16A: Tawa-fried flatbread) A tawa (also spelled tava) is a round, slightly concave pan with many uses, including cooking naan, a flatbread characterized by its slightly fluffy texture.

  • ATARI (17A: Developer of the game Food Fight) Food Fight is a 1983 arcade video game by ATARI. Players guide a character named Charley Chuck, who is trying to reach and eat an ice cream cone before it melts. Standing between Charley Chuck and the ice cream cone are four chefs trying to stop him. Both the player and the chefs can grab food from piles scattered around the screen and throw them at each other.

  • GWYNETH PALTROW (19A: She played Margot Tenenbaum in "The Royal Tenenbaums") The Royal Tenenbaums is a 2011 movie that follows the lives of three siblings: Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller), Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson), and Margot Tenenbaum (GWYNETH PALTROW). The Tenenbaum siblings all achieved success at a young age, and are facing challenges in adulthood.

  • ALOO (37A: Potatoes, in Hindi) ALOO is a South Asian term for potatoes, and is used in the names of a number of dishes such as ALOO gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) and ALOO mutter (potatoes and peas in tomato gravy).

  • GRAVITY'S RAINBOW (38A: 1973 satirical novel by Thomas Pynchon) Thomas Pynchon's novel, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, is set in Europe at the end of World War II. The book centers on a quest to uncover the secret of a mysterious device. The Pulitzer Prize jury for 1974 selected GRAVITY'S RAINBOW to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. They were overruled by the Pulitzer Advisory Board, which elected not to give an award in the category that year in order to avoid giving an award to a book they deemed "unreadable," "turgid," and "obscene."

  • MUNG (44A: ___ bean) MUNG bean is a legume mainly cultivated in East, Southeast, and South Asia. MUNG bean is used as an ingredient in savory and sweet dishes.

  • URDU (61A: Official language of Pakistan) The official languages of Pakistan are URDU and English. It's estimated that 75-85 different languages are spoken by the people of Pakistan, with URDU serving as the lingua franca (bridge language or common language), spoken by about 75% of the population.

  • EMORY (63A: University in Atlanta) EMORY University was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1936 by the Methodist Episcopal Church. (It was named Emory College until 1915.) EMORY alumni include former President Jimmy Carter, singers Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and my dad.

  • SCOT (64A: Alan Cumming, e.g.) Actor Alan Cumming is known for his work on stage and screen. He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a musical for his portrayal of the Emcee in Cabaret. Alan Cumming was born in Scotland. (Incidentally, in the same year I was born in the United States.)

  • EDIE (65A: Activist Windsor) I wrote about EDIE Windsor, the plaintiff in the 2013 Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor, earlier this month.

  • CLAWS (2D: Kitty's "daggers") and THAT HURT (4D: "Ouch!") Ah, yes, I am familiar with kitty CLAWS, which have occasionally caused me to say, "THAT HURT!" Fortunately, usually when my cat, Willow, gets me with her CLAWS, it is accidental. Here she is looking sweet and innocent.

  • NICO (8D: "These Days" singer) NICO (1938-1988) was a German singer, songwriter, actress, and model. She recorded Jackson Browne's song, "These Days," in 1967 for her album, Chelsea Girl. The song was subsequently covered by several other artists. Fun Fact: NICO's version of "These Days" was featured in the movie The Royal Tenenbaums.

  • ELBA (27D: "The Wire" actor Idris) The Wire is a crime drama TV series that originally aired from 2002-2008. Idris ELBA played the role of drug kingpin Russell "Stringer" Bell.

  • MGS (30D: Booker T. & the ___) Booker T. & the M.G.'S were a band that played R&B, soul, funk, and instrumental rock. Booker T. & the M.G.'s were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2019.

  • A few other clues I especially enjoyed:

    • NAILS IT (47A: Perfectly fulfills the assignment)

    • EIGHT (50A: Number that looks like an infinity sign when on its side)

    • GRADE (51D: A, B, C, or D, but not E)

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • GWYNETH PALTROW (19A: She played Margot Tenenbaum in "The Royal Tenenbaums")

  • GRAVITY'S RAINBOW (38A: 1973 satirical novel by Thomas Pynchon)

  • GROUND CREW (55A: Airport pros that might de-ice planes or check luggage)

The word GROW is spread APART by each theme answer: GWYNETH PALTROW, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, and GROUND CREW.

The title of today's puzzle allowed me to make a pretty good guess about the theme. That meant I was fairly confident each theme answer would begin with the letter G and end with the letter W. This was confirmed when I uncovered the answer GWYNETH PALTROW. I appreciate that each possible break of the word GROW is represented: G/ROW, GR/OW, and GRO/W. Thank you, Kate, for this excellent puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for May 25, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher