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Crossword Puzzles

Off the Grid: Sally breaks down USA TODAY's daily crossword puzzle, The Sims

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

Constructor: Nate Cardin

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

July 5, 2024

What I Learned from Today’s Puzzle

  • SIMA SAMAR (48A: Human rights advocate and former Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission) SIMA SAMAR's memoir, Outspoken: My Fight for Freedom and Human Rights in Afghanistan, was published earlier this year. SIMA SAMAR is a doctor and an activist. She advocates for women's rights, particularly in her native country, Afghanistan, and for the importance of education for women. I am happy to learn about this courageous woman!

Random Thoughts & Interesting Things

  • MAMA (1A: Papa's partner, sometimes) and DAD (55A: Papa's partner, sometimes) This is an excellent clue echo.
  • BRA (5A: Balconette undergarment) The balconette style of BRA has low-cut cups and wide-set straps. This style creates a square neckline and accentuates cleavage.
  • LAST (21A: HBO post-apocalyptic drama "The ___ of Us") The TV show The LAST of Us premiered in January 2023. It is based on a 2013 video game of the same name. On the show, Joel (Pedro Pascal) is a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States.
  • SIMONE BILES (22A: Most decorated gymnast in American history) I am always happy to see SIMONE BILES featured in the puzzle. She's an incredible gymnast, and she's been in the news recently, as she (easily) qualified for the U.S. team for this summer's Olympics in Paris. This summer SIMONE BILES will have the opportunity to add to her seven Olympic medals (four gold, one silver, and two bronze). She has also won 30 World Championship medals (23 gold, four silver, and three bronze).
  • ERA (31A: One of many in a recent Taylor Swift world tour) The ERAs Tour – Taylor Swift's current concert tour – is scheduled to run through the end of this year. The next scheduled tour dates are August 1-3 in Poland.
  • SIMU LIU (36A: Lead actor in Marvel's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings") SIMU LIU plays the title character in the Marvel Studios movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021). SIMU LIU also played one of the eight characters named Ken in the movie Barbie (2023).
  • SAD (67A: Feeling down) and HAPPY (68A: Feeling up) Sometimes you're SAD. Sometimes you're HAPPY. This puzzle has you covered.
  • MISS (23D: "___ Congeniality" (2000 comedy)) Sandra Bullock stars in MISS Congeniality, as an FBI agent asked to go undercover as a contestant at the MISS United States pageant. Sandra Bullock reprises her role in the sequel, MISS Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005).
  • IMAM (38D: Mosque leader aptly found in "Muslim American") An IMAM is a Muslim worship leader. It is indeed apt that the word IMAM is found in "Muslim American."
  • TINA (54D: Butt-obsessed "Bob's Burgers" teen) Bob's Burgers is an animated sitcom centered on Bob and Linda Belcher and their children, TINA, Gene, and Louise. As the name of the show suggests, the Belchers own a burger restaurant. When we saw TINA in the May 23, 2024 puzzle, she was clued as ["Bob's Burgers" child who likes horses, music, and boys]. Today we gain the further knowledge that TINA is obsessed with butts. One of TINA's hobbies is writing erotic fiction about movies and her life.
  • ESPY (59D: 2023 award for Caitlin Clark) Caitlin Clark is a professional basketball player. She is a point guard for the WNBA's Indiana Fever. In college, Caitlin Clark played for the University of Iowa. She is the NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer. She was the number one pick in this year's WNBA Draft. In 2023, Caitlin Clark won an ESPY for Best Female College Athlete. Living in Iowa City, and being a University of Iowa alum myself, I have managed to learn a lot about Caitlin Clark even though I don't usually follow sports closely.

Crossword Puzzle Theme Synopsis

  • SIMONE BILES (22A: Most decorated gymnast in American history)
  • SIMU LIU (36A: Lead actor in Marvel's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings")
  • SIMA SAMAR (48A: Human rights advocate and former Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission)

All three theme answers begin with the letters SIM. Today THE SIMS are SIMONE BILES, SIMU LIU, and SIMA SAMAR.

THE SIMS are a series of video games in which the player creates and controls virtual people, called "SIMS," and manage their living environment. Today our SIMS are not virtual people, but real people whose names begin with the letters SIM. What a fun theme, and an excellent set of theme answers. Thank you, Nate, for this delightful puzzle.

For more on USA TODAY’s Crossword Puzzles

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