July 21, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
GAIN CURRENCY (19A: Become more accepted)
COOKIE DOUGH (36A: Ice cream flavor with chocolate chips)
STATE CAPITAL (53A: Tepic or Topeka, for example)

Theme synopsis: The RIGHT-most word of each theme answer is a synonym for MONEY.

Things I learned:
  • LADY (30D: Performance artist ___ Dane Figueroa Edidi) Dubbed the Ancient Jazz Priestess of Mother Africa, LADY Dane Figueroa Edidi describes herself as "a Black, Cuban, Indigenous and Nigerian healer, artist, priestess, author, playwright, actress, singer, dancer, advocate and political commentator." She is the co-editor of the Black Trans Prayer Book
  • KOREANS (37D: Hanbok Day celebrants) The hanbok is the traditional clothing worn by KOREANS. Until about a century ago, KOREANS wore the hanbok daily. Now the colorful traditional clothing is worn on special occasions. Hanbok Day was established in 1996 by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to encourage KOREANS to wear the hanbok. Earlier this year, the mayor of Tenafly, New Jersey designated October 21 as "Korean Hanbok Day," making Tenafly the first city outside of South Korea to commemorate the hanbok.
  • OCEAN (51D: Wakame's habitat) Wakame is an edible seaweed, also known as "sea mustard." Having a subtly sweet, but distinctive flavor, wakame has been cultivated in Japan and Korea for centuries. It is often used in soups or salads. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CARTA (17A: The Magna ___) The Magna CARTA was a peace treaty between King John and rebel barons who were threatening civil war in 1215. Although the peace did not last, the Magna CARTA was important for stating values that challenged the autocracy of the king, such as the right to justice and a fair trial. The Magna CARTA influenced later documents in England and other countries (such as the United States's Declaration of Independence and Constitution). I remember learning about the Magna CARTA many years ago, but that was some knowledge that needed dusting off.
  • GOSSIP (24A: It might be heard through the grapevine) Anyone else start singing, "Ooh, I bet you're wonderin' how I knew/ 'Bout your plans to make me blue..." or was that just me? This clue for GOSSIP definitely got a song stuck in my head (at least it's a good one!) - Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." (The song was also recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Miracles.)
  • SAGA (32A: "Cutting for Stone," for one) The 2009 novel, Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese is a SAGA about twin brothers. In addition to being an author, Abraham Verghese is a physician. He was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The twins in Cutting for Stone are born at Mission Hospital in Addis Ababa, and become orphans when their mother dies and their father abandons them. The book is told in the voice of Marion Stone, one of the twins, and tells the story of the brother's lives. Cutting for Stone was on the New York Times Best Seller list for two years. If you have not read Cutting for Stone, I highly recommend it. It's a compelling and interesting SAGA.
  • POOR (50A: ___ People's Campaign) I have previously written about the POOR People's Campaign
  • NOTES (59A: Markings that may be made in margins) NOTES is another synonym for MONEY, so in that sense it could be bonus theme material, though the answer is centered in the puzzle, not on the RIGHT side.
  • TERRA (6D: Word before "firma" or "incognita") "TERRA firma" is a Latin phrase meaning "solid earth." "TERRA incognita" means "unknown land."
  • ONE (10D: Number of time zones used by China) I find it interesting that although it is a large country spanning five geographical time zones, CHINA follows ONE time zone. That must make for some interesting experiences when traveling across the country and the sun rises and sets many hours earlier or later than you expect it to. 
  • DYLAN (47D: "Shadows in the Night" singer Bob) Shadows in the Night is a 2015 album by Bib DYLAN. The album is covers of pop songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, such as "Some Enchanted Evening" and "Autumn Leaves."
  • ALA (57D: Eggs ___ Russe) Eggs ALA Russe is a dish made with hard-cooked eggs. Here's one recipe for the dish.
Geography review:
  • STATE CAPITAL (53A: Tepic or Topeka, for example) Tepic is the STATE CAPITAL of Nayarit, Mexico. Nayarit is one of Mexico's 32 states. Topeka is the STATE CAPITAL of Kansas, one of the 50 states of the United States.
A straightforward theme today - one of the few times I correctly guessed the theme from the title. It was fun to uncover each theme answer and discover the MONEY synonyms. Although I've heard the phrase GAIN CURRENCY, it's not a phrase I hear often, so it took some crossings to figure out. I appreciate that the meanings of CURRENCY, DOUGH, and CAPITAL all change from the way they are used in the theme answers to the way they relate to the theme. My favorite answer today was SO THAT'S THAT - such a colorful phrase. I also liked DENIM JACKET, as it evoked memories of a favorite piece of clothing from my high school days. This puzzle was a great way to start my Wednesday.