Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, Exoskeleton (2024)

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Sally HoelscherUSA TODAY

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

Constructor: Jess Shulman

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Comments from Today’s Crossword Constructor

Jess: While we ended up titling this puzzle "Exoskeleton," I can't help but think of it as the Broken Bones puzzle. When doing crosswords I am often reminded of the time my then six-year-old son fell off the monkey bars and broke both his radius and his ulna. If only I'd been able to work one of those into this grid, it would've been perfect.

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • ANIME (64A: "Delicious in Dungeon," e.g.) Delicious in Dungeon is an ANIME TV series that premiered in January of this year, and is available on Netflix. It is based on the manga series of the same name. The show is set in a dungeon, where a group of adventurers are exploring and trying to survive, which sometimes means cooking and eating monsters.
  • KONG (41D: Hong ___ (setting for the show "Expats")) Expats is an Amazon Prime miniseries that premiered earlier this year. Nicole Kidman stars as Margaret Woo, an expatriate living in Hong KONG. The show is based on Janice Y. K. Lee's 2016 novel, The Expatriates. I appreciate that the answer here is inferable, yet I still learned something new.

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • RAT (1A: Templeton in "Charlotte's Web," e.g.) Charlotte's Web is a classic children's book by E.B. White. It was first published in 1952, and has been adapted into movies and video games. The title character, Charlotte, is a spider. Charlotte befriends Wilbur, who is a pig, and ultimately uses her webs to save Wilbur's life. Templeton is a RAT, who helps Charlotte and Wilbur in exchange for food.
  • FADS (4A: Leg warmers and banana clips) This clue made me laugh! I remember both of these FADS. Leg warmers, which are essentially sleeves for the lower leg, became popular in the 1980s, when I was in high school and college. The 1980s were also a time of popularity for the banana clip, a hair accessory that is curved like the shape of a banana. Last year for Christmas, I asked for (and received) leg warmers. I know they're not in anymore, but they are functional and warm.
  • PITAS (8A: Shawarma breads) 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 on PITAS, sandwich-style.
  • ANNIE (19A: "Schitt's Creek" actress Murphy) Schitt's Creekis a TV series about a formerly wealthy family that relocates to a small town named Schitt's Creek, which they once purchased as a joke. Annie Murphy portrays ALEXIS Rose, one of the adult children of Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) and Moira Rose (Catherine O'Hara).
  • BETTE (20A: Grammy winner Midler) BETTE Midler has won three Grammy Awards: Best New Artist (1974), Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "The Rose" (1981), and Record of the Year for "Wind Beneath My Wings" (1990).
  • LIFE (26A: Board game with plastic cars and people) Ah, this puzzle is sending me on a trip down memory lane with mentions of leg warmers and banana clips, and now the game of LIFE. When I was about 10 years old, I used my own money to buy the board game LIFE. I still have that game, and those plastic cars and people have seen a lot of playing time over the years.
  • MOI (38A: Miss Piggy's indignant retort) MOI? I am here for the Miss Piggy references.
  • MEALS (60A: ___ on Wheels) Versions of a MEALS on Wheels program exist in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These programs are generally community-based nutrition programs that deliver MEALS.
  • GAMUT (63A: Full spectrum) I think GAMUT is a fun and interesting word! The word derived from musical notation in the 11th century when a monk named Guido of Arezzo developed a musical scale. He called the first line of his bass staff "gamma," and the first note in his scale "ut." "Gamma ut" was the term referring to the first note on the first staff line. Eventually the term was shortened to GAMUT. Over time GAMUT came to refer to the entire musical range, and eventually its meaning expanded outside of music to refer to the full spectrum of anything.
  • RABBI (1D: Officiant under a chuppah) A chuppah is a canopy that Jewish couples stand under during their wedding.
  • DINO (6D: Fred and Wilma's purple pet) The Flintstones (1960-1966) was the first animated show to air on prime time. Fred and Wilma are the titular Flintstones, and DINO is the family pet, a dogasaurus – a dinosaur exhibiting characteristics of a dog.
  • ASIA (11D: Continent that uses 11 time zones) I enjoyed this interesting clue for our crossword-friend ASIA. Here's a fun side note: Although the country of China spans the equivalent of five time zones, the entire country observes the same time zone (UTC+8). This clue made me curious about how many time zones the other continents span. North America also spans 11 times zones. Europe has seven time zones, Africa has six, South America has five, and Australia has three. Antarctica is a special case. It could theoretically have all 24 time zones, as the zones converge at the poles. This isn't practical, of course, and since most of Antarctica is uninhabited, it's a bit of a moot point. In practice, most research stations in Antarctica follow the time zone of the country that operates them, and cruise ships in Antarctica tend to follow the time zone of their departure port.
  • DEER (18D: Stag or doe ... or both) A nice reminder that the plural form of DEER is DEER.
  • PIG LATIN (22D: "Illysay utbay unfay" language) Ha! In case your PIG LATIN is rusty, this clue says "Silly but fun" language.
  • NIQAB (30D: Face covering) A NIQAB is a face covering worn by some Muslim women. A NIQAB covers the face while leaving the eyes uncovered.
  • OTOH (32D: "And yet..." in a text) OTOH = on the other hand
  • OMANI (54D: Resident of the oldest independent Arab state) The country of Oman is located in West Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula. Oman received independence from Britain in 1951. The capital of Oman is Muscat.
  • MAP (65D: Talking guide in Dora's backpack) The title character of the animated children's TV series,Dora the Exploreris a seven-year-old Latina girl. On her various adventures, Dora is accompanied by hertalking purple backpackand an anthropomorphic monkey named Boots. Like Dora, her backpack speaks both Spanish and English. Dora's helpful talking MAP lives inside her backpack.

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • BOXED WINE (17A: Beverage with a dispensing valve)
  • BACK TO SQUARE ONE (40A: "Guess I'll start over")
  • BON VOYAGE (66A: "Enjoy your vacation!")

The word BONE is found at the outer edges of each theme answer: BOXED WINE, BACK TO SQUARE ONE, and BON VOYAGE.

An EXOSKELETON is an external skeleton. In today's puzzle, the EXOSKELETON is demonstrated in the form of the word BONE that is split or broken and appears on the outer edges of each theme answer. I appreciated that the all possible breaks of the word BONE are used: BO/NE, B/ONE, and BON/E. Thank you, Jess, for this delightful puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

  • USA TODAY’s Daily Crossword Puzzles
  • Puzzle Answers

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Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, Exoskeleton (2024)


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