May 18, 2021


Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
RAZOR SHARP (6D: Really good to slice with)
FAN THEORIES (10D: "Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord," etc.)
SLIDE TACKLE (24D: Soccer move that may leave grass stains)
GUITAR HERO (29D: Video game series with strumming)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer can be paired with the word ELECTRIC: ELECTRIC RAZOR, ELECTRIC FAN, ELECTRIC SLIDE, ELECTRIC GUITAR.

Things I learned:
  • POE (53A: Filipino action star Fernando ___ Jr.) Actor and director Fernando POE, Jr. is sometimes referred to as FPJ, and has also been called the "King of Philippine Movies." POE began working in the Philippine film industry as a messenger boy, later working his way up to being a stuntman and actor. In addition to his acting career, Fernando POE, Jr. unsuccessfully ran for President of the Philippines in 2004.
  • EGG (4D: Ingredient in some lumpia wrappers) Lumpia wrappers are thin crepe-like pastries that are used to wrap savory or sweet fillings. Lumpia wrappers are commonly used in Indonesian and Filipino cuisine.
  • ARIA (11D: "All That" actress Brooks) All That is a Nickelodeon TV series featuring comedy sketches and musical guests. The show originally aired from 1994-2000, was relaunched from 2002-2005, and was revived in 2019. ARIA Brooks joined the cast of All That in 2020. 
  • SLIDE TACKLE (24D: Soccer move that may leave grass stains) In soccer, a SLIDE TACKLE is when a player slides with one leg extended to scoop and push the ball. With my limited sports knowledge, this was not a term I knew. However, it was inferable from the clue.
  • THORN (30D: Abigail of Philosophy Tube) Philosophy Tube is a YouTube Channel created by Abigail THORN in 2013. THORN began Philosophy Tube in an effort to make philosophy education accessible in response to increasing university tuition fees in the United Kingdom. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • AREA (16A: "Unexpected item in bagging ___") "Unexpected item in bagging AREA," is a phrase you may have heard if you have ever chosen the self-checkout option at a store. The phrase has been used in a variety of memes and videos
  • GAS GUZZLER (17A: Car with bad fuel economy) This was among the first answers I filled in, before I had discovered the theme answers. My thought was, "Well, that's certainly not ELECTRIC!"
  • NICK (19A: Disney fox Wilde) NICK Wilde is a character in the 2016 Disney movie, Zootopia. Voiced by Jason Bateman, NICK Wilde is a red fox who is a small-time con artist.
  • AHI (38A: Sushi tuna) and ROLL (39A: Sushi unit) Exhibit A of "nicely connected consecutive clues."
  • EDGE (40A: "We'll sell you the whole seat, but you'll only need the ___") In the 1980s, this line was used a lot in TV ads for monster truck competitions. I unsuccessfully tried to find a classic example (mostly finding parodies, which are numerous!), but I did find a CBS News story about Luke Burbank learning to drive a monster truck
  • TIRED (42A: In need of sleep) and RESTS UP (43A: Gets some sleep) Exhibit B of "nicely connected consecutive clues." Also, I feel seen by TIRED! Hopefully I can REST UP soon.
  • CHER (52A: "Strong Enough" singer) "Strong Enough" is a song from CHER's 1998 album, Believe. CHER is not the only singer with a song titled, "Strong Enough." Sheryl Crow, Stacie Orrico, 50 Cent, and Matthew West have also released songs with this title. 
  • NENE (63A: TV star Leakes) NENE Leakes was an original cast member on the reality TV series, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. She also played the role of Roz Washington on the TV show, Glee
  • COAL (2D: Tandoor fuel) A tandoor is a cylindrical oven used in cooking and baking. Tandoors are usually made of clay or metal, with the heat provided by charCOAL, which is burned within the tandoor.
  • FAN THEORIES (10D: "Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord," etc.) FAN THEORIES, also known by the term "FAN fiction," arise when fans come up with their own ideas about fictional universes, such as Star Wars. FAN THEORIES have likely existed as long as stories have, but the internet provides a forum for these ideas - such as "Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord" - to spread.
  • PUN (23D: "Orion's Belt is a waist of space," e.g.) I happened to fill this answer in completely from crossing answers, so didn't see this clue until I was reviewing the puzzle, at which time it provided a nice chuckle and a groan.
Geography review:
  • INLET (31D: Fjord or ria, for example) A fjord is a long narrow INLET with steep cliffs. You may remember that Oslo, Norway is located on a fjord. A ria is an INLET formed when a river valley is partially submerged by water. San Francisco Bay in California is an example of a ria.
  • PESO (53D: Philippine currency) The Philippine PESO is the official currency of the Philippines. The word "PESO" appeared on the currency until 1967. Since that time, the Filipino word "piso" has been used.
  • OAHU (54D: Honolulu's island) Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii, and its largest city. It is located on the southeast coast of OAHU. The name "Honolulu" means "sheltered harbor."
In addition to being the title of this puzzle, IT'S ELECTRIC! is a podcast featuring Metallica's Lars Ulrich. 
A fun set of theme answers today. I also liked the answers MILES AHEAD and GAS GUZZLER, as well as GENETIC, SHUCKED, and HAPLESS. Fun cluing today, too. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Tuesday.


  1. Hi, just came over to see what this blog looks like, after you were mentioned in the (LAT) Crossword Corner comments today. Looks good, I'll have to start looking in frequently.
    I don't usually do the USAToday puzzle, so I didn't notice the title, but even if I had, how did you know GAS GUZZLER wasn't part of the theme?

    Just checked Google, and see ELECTRIC GAS and ELECTRIC MILES are both related to hybrid cars, but Electric Gas mainly refers to cooking ranges, and Electric Miles is jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. On the other hand, I'd never heard of ELECTRIC SLIDE, and figured that it was an amped trombone, but Google tells me it's a line dance from the 1970's!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Owen! You're right, I could well have been wrong about GAS GUZZLER. I wasn't familiar with the terms ELECTRIC GAS or ELECTRIC MILES, but they could definitely be additional theme material!


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