Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, Wing Woman (Freestyle)

There are spoilers ahead. You might want to solve today's puzzle before reading further! Wing Woman (Freestyle)

Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

June 23, 2024
June 23, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • CHICKEN SHOP DATE (36A: YouTube internet show hosted by Amelia Dimoldenberg) CHICKEN SHOP DATE is a YouTube interview series. On each show, host Amelia Dimoldenberg meets a celebrity guest at a CHICKEN SHOP for an interview. The interview is formatted as though she and the guest are on a DATE. A wide range of guests have appeared on CHICKEN SHOP DATE, including Shania Twain, Cher, and the Jonas Brothers. I spent some time watching several episodes (for research!). I especially enjoyed the episode with Sean Evans, the host of Hot Ones (an interview show I've written about previously).

  • JAMIE LEE (61A: "Weddiculous" author) Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being A Bride is a 2016 book by stand up comedian and actress JAMIE LEE. In the book, JAMIE LEE shares insights she gained from planning her own wedding. As the tagline on the book says, "Because being basic has never been so complicated."

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • HOV (22A: Carpool lane (Abbr.)) We saw HOV as an answer earlier this month. Hopefully you remembered the abbreviation HOV, which stands for "high-occupancy vehicle."

  • YEN (22A: Third-most traded currency) The YEN is the currency of Japan. When I read this clue, I immediately wanted to know what the first and second-most traded currencies are. The YEN is the third-most traded currency following the U.S. dollar and the euro.

  • APPA (32A: Korean dad) Perhaps you remember that we saw APPA in the puzzle last month.

  • SPIN-OFFS (42A: "Frasier" and "Better Call Saul", e.g.) The TV show Frasier (1993-2004) was a SPIN-OFF of Cheers. Better Call Saul (2015-2022) was a SPIN-OFF of Breaking Bad.

  • EDT (45A: Summer time zone for Jupiter, FL) Jupiter, Florida is the northernmost town in Palm Beach County. It is part of the Miami metropolitan area. Florida is in the Eastern time zone, so in the summer, Jupiter observes Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Fun fact: American Horror Story: Freak Show, the fourth season of the anthology horror TV show, is set in Jupiter, Florida in the year 1952.

  • DENT (53A: Word aptly hidden in "indentation") It's always particularly satisfying when the hidden word is hidden in a related word or phrase.

  • CAT MOM (60A: Woman buying litter and catnip-filled toys) and LAP (55D: Place for a snuggly kitty) Oh, hey, it's me. I'm a CAT MOM. One of my CAT, Willow's absolute favorite places to be is on my LAP.

Snuggly kitty
Snuggly kitty
  • ART (5D: "The ___ of making ___ is putting it together") "The ART of making ART is putting it together," is a lyric from the song "Putting It Together." The song is from Stephen Sondheim's 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George. I wrote about Sunday in the Park with George last month.

  • EDNA (8D: "The Taste of Country Cooking" author Lewis) EDNA Lewis (1916-2006) was a chef and author and founder of the Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food. She authored four cookbooks, including The Taste of Country Cooking (1976).

  • ONCE (23D: "All at ___ You Love Her") "All at ONCE You Love Her" is a song from the Broadway musical, Pipe Dream, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical was based on John Steinbeck's novel, Sweet Thursday. When Pipe Dream first appeared on Broadway in 1955, it was a financial flop for Rodgers & Hammerstein. The song, "All at ONCE You Love Her" was recorded by Perry Como and reached number 11 on the Billboard chart.

  • DEB (48D: Secretary of the Interior Haaland) DEB Haaland has been the U.S. Secretary of the Interior since March 16, 2021. She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, and the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary. Prior to becoming Secretary of the Interior, DEB Haaland was a U.S. Representative from New Mexico.

  • DEJA (52D: "Do you get ___ vu when she's with you?" (Olivia Rodrigo lyric)) "Do you get DÉJÀ vu when she's with you?" is from Olivia Rodrigo's 2021 song "DÉJÀ Vu."

  • A few other answers I particularly enjoyed:

    • I CAN'T WIN WITH YOU (17A: "Nothing's ever good enough!")

    • PLEASE BE PATIENT (54A: "Hold your horses")

    • ENCORE (2D: "One more song!")

    • THAT'S A FIRST (3D: "Never thought I'd see the day!")

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

There's no theme today, as this is a themeless, or freestyle, puzzle. WING WOMAN is a nod to CHICKEN SHOP DATE (36A: YouTube internet show hosted by Amelia Dimoldenberg).

There are a ton of lively answers in this grid, beginning with the three grid-spanners: I CAN'T WIN WITH YOU, CHICKEN SHOP DATE, and PLEASE BE PATIENT. I like how (if you use your imagination) the strings of black squares across the grid are WING-shaped. Thank you, Amanda, for this delightful puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for June 23, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher