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

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

Constructor: Lynn K. Watson

Editor: Anna Gundlach

April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • MID (43A: Just meh, in slang) This was fairly inferable, but I definitely learned this today. According to this article, MID can be used as a synonym for boring, not good, mediocre, or low quality. You know, just meh.

  • ERIN (35D: "The Night Circus" author Morgenstern) The Night Circus is the 2011 debut novel of ERIN Morgenstein. The fantasy novel spent seven weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List. On her website, ERIN Morgenstein says she lives with "the world's cutest kitten." That's subjective, of course (and I beg to disagree!), but her cat is pretty cute, and has its own Instagram account.

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • BBC (1A: "Fleabag" network) Fleabag is a BBC TV series that was adapted from a one-woman show by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The show centers on the title character, Fleabag – portrayed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge – a free-spirited single young woman living in London.

  • BATS (4A: Animals once called "flittermice") This is a fun animal fact! The word "flittermouse" was derived from the German word "fledermaus."

  • GILA (16A: ___ monster (large lizard)) The GILA monster is a species of venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

  • ALAN (17A: Mathematician Turing) ALAN Turing (1912-1954) was a mathematician, computer scientist, code-breaker, and logician. He is considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

  • CONCEPT ALBUMS (18A: Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Beyoncé's "Lemonade," for two) A CONCEPT ALBUM is an ALBUM whose songs are unified and tell a story of some sort. Pink Floyd's 1979 CONCEPT ALBUM, The Wall, is a semi-autobiographical work about a jaded rock star named Pink. Beyonce's 2016 CONCEPT ALBUM, Lemonade, deals with topics of infidelity and love in a historical and racial context. Beyoncé has said her intention for Lemonade "was to create a body of work that would give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness, and our history."

  • LEE (28A: "Parasite" actor Sun-Kyun) Parasite is a 2019 movie about a family that insinuates itself into a wealthy household. The movie was directed by Bong Joon-Ho, and won three Academy Awards. LEE Sun-Kyun portrays the father of the movie's wealthy Park family.

  • NOD (30A: Place a bid at a silent auction, say) This clue confused me a bit, because the silent auctions I'm familiar with involve writing bids down (either in person or online) rather than using a NOD. However, I do know a NOD can serve as an indication of a bid in an in-person auction, so I was able to deduce the answer with some help from crossing answers.

  • NEO (42A: Keanu's "The Matrix" role) In The Matrix movies - of which there have been four to date - Keanu Reeves portrays computer programmer Thomas Anderson, who operates as a hacker using the name NEO. The name NEO is an anagram of "one." In The Matrix, "The One" refers to a randomly selected human that carries a special code. I have never seen The Matrix, but I have learned this information from solving crosswords.

  • NATO (52A: ___ phonetic alphabet) The NATO Phonetic Alphabet is a widely used radiotelephone spelling alphabet. Like the Greek Alphabet, references to the NATO phonetic alphabet make occasional appearances in crossword puzzles. I like to review these alphabets when they appear to keep this information semi-fresh in my mind. Therefore, today I will remind you that in the NATO phonetic alphabet, N is for November, O is for Oscar, P is for Papa, and Q is for Quebec.

  • COVER-UP TATTOO (53A: Fix for unwanted ink) A person may get a COVER-UP TATTOO for a number of reasons. For example, some TATTOOs that reference former relationships may be COVERed UP by another TATTOO as an alternative to getting the previous TATTOO removed. A COVER-UP TATTOO may also be used to cover a skin condition or scar.

  • HAIR (62A: "Aquarius" musical) "Aquarius" is the opening number of the 1968 rock musical HAIR. "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius / age of Aquarius..."

  • BIONIC (1D: Like an electronically enhanced body part) I wrote about BIONIC prosthetic devices last month.

  • ASIAN (5D: The first "A" of AAPI) AAPI is an abbreviation for ASIAN American and Pacific Islander. AAPI Heritage Month is celebrated in May. This clue reminded me of two previous puzzles that celebrate AAPI Heritage, one by Paolo Pasco, and the other by Hoang-Kim Vu & Erica Hsiang Wojcik. (Speaking of Paolo Pasco, congratulations to him for winning the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament held in Stamford, Connecticut earlier this month!)

  • HELSINKI (9D: Capital on the Gulf of Finland) HELSINKI is the capital and most populous city of Finland. As the clue informs us, it is located on the Gulf of Finland.

  • VWS (32D: Tiguans, Beetles and e-Golfs) I'm not familiar with the Volkswagen (VW) Tiguan, a crossover VW SUV manufactured since 2007, but I recognized Beetles and e-Golfs (the e stands for electric) as VWS. Production of the e-Golf ended in 2020; VW replaced it with a new electric vehicle, the ID.3.

  • KAMA (34D: ___ Sutra) The KAMA Sutra is an ancient Sanskrit text dating to between 400 and 300 BCE. Perhaps the most well-known parts of the KAMA Sutra are those concerning sexuality and eroticism.

  • SATIRE (46D: The Onion's genre) The Onion was started in 1988 by Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson, who were University of Wisconsin students at the time. It began as a weekly print newspaper, and has grown to be a digital media company, which also runs The A.V. ClubThe Onion presents SATIRE so convincingly it is occasionally mistaken as real news.

  • MOSES (50D: "___: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom") MOSES: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom is a 2006 picture book written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. It is a Caldecott Honor book, and won a Coretta Scott King Award.

  • ASHE (56D: 1975 Wimbledon champ Arthur) Arthur ASHE (1943-1993) won the U.S. Open in 1968. He went on to win the Australian Open in 1970, and Wimbledon in 1975.

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • CONCEPT ALBUMS (18A: Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Beyonce's "Lemonade," for two)

  • KEPT A LOW PROFILE (34A: Avoided attention)

  • COVER-UP TATTOO (53A: Fix for unwanted ink)

The letters PTA are found MEETING at the junction of two words in each theme answer: CONCEPT ALBUMS, KEPT A LOW PROFILE, and COVER-UP TATTOO.

As my children are now young adults, it's been some time since I attended a PTA MEETING. The title of today's puzzle brought back memories. This is a fun theme, and I appreciate that the letters PTA are not simply hidden in each theme answer, but are MEETING across two words. Thank you, Lynn, for this enjoyable puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crossword Blog & Answers for April 15, 2024 by Sally Hoelscher