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

Sally Hoelscher, USA TODAY

·6-min read

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

Constructor: Amie Walker

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • AGE (23A: "The Gilded ___" (Carrie Coon show)) The Gilded AGE is an HBO TV series that premiered in 2022. The show is set in New York City during the 1880s, a period known as the Gilded AGE, a time of materialistic excess and political corruption. Carrie Coon portrays aspiring socialite Bertha Russell.

  • ECON (36A: Field for Dania Francis, for short) Dania Francis is an Associate Professor of Economics (ECON) at University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research focuses on structural causes of racial and socioeconomic disparities.

  • LOB (52A: Portmanteau hairstyle) When referring to hairstyles, the word LOB is a portmanteau of the words "long" and "bob." The LOB is a variation of the bob cut at shoulder level. Although I've seen this hairstyle, the term LOB to refer to it is new to me.

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • BUS (1A: Ms. Frizzle's vehicle) Ms. Frizzle is the teacher in the educational entertainment franchise, The Magic School BUS. (Did you know her first name is Valerie?) In the books, TV shows, and video games, Ms. Frizzle – dressed in clothing themed to the day's adventure – takes her class on field trips to unusual times and locations, such as to the ocean floor or inside a hurricane. I am a fan of The Magic School BUS and Ms. Frizzle's approach to teaching science.

  • ALIEN (15A: Sci-fi film in which Sigourney Weaver saves Jonesy) In the 1979 movie ALIEN, Sigourney Weaver portrays Ripley, an officer aboard a space ship. Jonesy is the ship's cat. The role of Jonesy was played by four lookalike ginger cats. At the end of ALIEN, Sigourney Weaver's character takes Jonesy with her when she makes her escape. Fun hidden cat content here.

  • SIR (48A: Ian McKellen's title) SIR Ian McKellen, known for his extensive work on stage and screen, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991 for "services to the performing arts."

  • EMAIL (59A: "This meeting could have been an ___") Ha! "This meeting could have been an EMAIL," is pretty much my reaction to 99% of the meetings I have ever been a part of.

  • PANIC AT THE DISCO (60A: "High Hopes" band) "High Hopes" is a 2018 song by PANIC! AT THE DISCO. It was the band's highest-charting song, reaching number four on Billboard's Hot 100, and spending 65 weeks at number one on Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart. The music video for "High Hopes" features Brendon Urie, the lead singer of PANIC! AT THE DISCO, walking up the side of a skyscraper.

  • NOLA (66A: "The birthplace of jazz," for short) New Orleans, Louisiana – NOLA, for short – is considered "the birthplace of jazz." Jazz originated in the Black communities of New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and has roots in ragtime and blues. NOLA was the birthplace of many influential jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong (1901-1971), Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941), and Freddie Keppard (1890-1933).

  • LAP (68A: Place for a cuddly pup) and CAT TREE (14D: Piece of furniture for a kitty to play on) Something for dog people and CAT people in today's puzzle. My CAT Willow does not have a CAT TREE (she finds plenty of other things to climb on, however), so here's a photo of her on my LAP.

Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, Flip Side (2)

  • NED (69A: Nancy Drew's boyfriend) I credit the Nancy Drew books with my love of mystery novels. When I was growing up I read every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. Fortunately, there are a lot of them – over 600 so far! The books have been written by a number of authors, all using the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. NED Nickerson, Nancy Drew's boyfriend, first appeared in The Clue in the Diary (1932), the seventh book of the Nancy Drew series.

  • PUGH (4D: "Little Women" actress Florence) The 2019 movie Little Women was directed by Greta Gerwig. It is the seventh movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's 1968 book of the same name. Florence PUGH portrays Amy March, one of the four March sisters.

  • UTES (5D: Great Basin Natives) The Great Basin area is a watershed region covering most of Nevada andparts of Utah, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Wyoming. The UTES are an indigenous people of the Great Basin area.

  • FRIDA (7D: Artist Kahlo) FRIDA Kahlo (1907-1947) has been described as one of the most instantly recognizable artists. This is partly due to the fact that 55 of her paintings (about a third of her work) are self-portraits. FRIDA Kahlo said, "I paint self-portraits because I am the person I know best."

  • SNL (12D: Marcello Hernandez's show) Marcello Hernandez joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 2022. He is the show's first Gen Z'er.

  • MEME (32D: Spider-Man Pointing, e.g.) The Spider-Man Pointing MEME is exactly what it sounds like: a picture of two animated Spider-Man characters pointing at each other. The photo has been used as a MEME since 2011, and has appeared in a variety of forms and with many different captions. The original image is from the 1967 animated Spider-Man series, and appeared in an episode called "Double Identity." The episode featured a criminal named Charles Cameo who dressed up as Spider-Man and then attempted to steal art, but was apprehended by the real Spider-Man.

  • ESTA (35D: "Como ___ usted?") "Como ESTA usted?" means "How are you?" in Spanish. I'm good, puzzle. Thanks for asking. Also, this is a good opportunity to link to a Marcello Hernandez SNL sketch called "Spanish Class."

  • ASS (40D: "We raise our glass / You bet you ___..." ("La Vie Boheme" lyric)) "La Vie Behème" is a song from the 1996 musical Rent. "We raise our glass / You bet your ASS / to La vie Bohème." This is a fun use of song lyrics to add interest to a clue for a three-letter word that we see in crosswords on a regular basis.

  • RAE (41D: "Barbie" actress Issa) In the 2023 movie Barbie, Issa RAE portrays President Barbie. Like Little Women, which I wrote about above, Barbie was directed by Greta Gerwig.

  • ALICIA (45D: Black Lives Matter co-founder Garza) ALICIA Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors initiated the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media in July 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.It's always a good time for a reminder that Black Lives Matter.

  • YODA (46D: ___ Best Mom Ever" (punny "Star Wars" phrase on a Mother's Day card)) This clue made me laugh!

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • GARBAGE DISPOSAL (16A: Sink fixture for handling food waste)

  • NEED I SAY MORE (37A: "Do you really require further details?")

  • PANIC AT THE DISCO (60A: "High Hopes" band)

Each theme answer features the word SIDE reading backwards – that is, FLIPped: GARBAGE DISPOSAL, NEED I SAY MORE, and PANIC AT THE DISCO.

Often when the word SIDE appears in a puzzle title, it is a hint that the theme element is found on one SIDE of the theme answer. Alas, today I searched the SIDEs of the theme answers in vain. I even briefly tried to convince myself that a GARBAGE FLIP or a DISCO FLIP might be a thing. Then I had a nice "Aha!" moment when I spotted the word SIDE going backwards in GARBAGE DISPOSAL. Oh, FLIP (the word) SIDE ... very nice! NEED I SAY MORE? Thank you, Amie, for this delightful puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for June 12, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher

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