July 8, 2021

Title: PLUS INTEREST

Constructor: Wendy L. Brandes

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
ORGANIC COMPOUND (16A: Substance containing carbon molecules)
I'M ONLY HUMAN (31A: "Mistakes happen!")
TAINTED LOVE (38A: 1980S Soft Cell hit)
ISN'T THAT SPECIAL (54A: "Well, whoop-de-doo!")

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer PLUS the word INTEREST yields a new phrase. We have COMPOUND INTEREST, HUMAN INTEREST, LOVE INTEREST, and SPECIAL INTEREST.

Things I learned:
  • CAIN (50A: Shuga ___ ("RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant) Shuga CAIN was a contestant on Season 11 of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2019. She is also a baker, and has hosted a web series called Gimme Some Shuga. Each of the six episodes feature Shuga CAIN and baker Justin Salinas recreating a runway look from RuPaul's Drag Race in cake.
  • FEET (62A: Juttis are worn on them) Traditionally made with leather and often featuring extensive embroidery, juttis are a type of shoe common in North India.
  • ANNE (22D: Poet Carson) ANNE Carson is a poet, essayist, Classics professor, and translator. She has published several books of poetry, including Float (2016) and The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos. She received Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships and won multiple awards for her writings. ANNE Carson was born in Toronto, Ontario, and in 2005 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Here's a link to one of ANNE Carson's poems, "The Glass Essay."
  • FANON (28D: Political philosopher Frantz) Frantz FANON was a psychiatrist and political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique, whose works have influenced anti-colonial and national liberation movements. FANON wrote a doctoral dissertation while at the University of Lyon, that analysed the negative psychological effects of colonialism on Black people. The work was inspired by his experiences of racism while he was studying psychiatry and medicine at the University. When the dissertation was rejected, FANON published it in 1952 as a book instead, titled Black Skin, White Masks.
  • ATE (55D: Enjoyed some Bun bo Hue) Bún bò Huế is a popular Vietnamese soup of beef and rice vermicelli, flavored with lemongrass. As is often the case with clues for ATE, it's not necessary to know what Bún bò Huế is to figure out the answer. I appreciate learning about it, however, as it sounds delicious.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TOE (19A: ___ ring (symbol of marriage for many Hindu women)) TOE rings, also known as bichwa, are worn by many Hindu married women on the second TOE of both FEET. The TOE rings are usually made of silver.
  • TAINTED LOVE (38A: 1980s Soft Cell hit) Originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, the song "TAINTED LOVE" achieved worldwide fame when it was recorded by the British duo Soft Cell in 1980. 
  • PUNNY (27D: Like the food truck name Grillenium Falcon) This is a fun clue! The Grillenium Falcon food truck operated from 2011-2016, serving up grilled cheese in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Grillenium Falcon served PUNNY fare such as the "Cheebacca," "Jack to the Future," and "Parmageddon."
  • HAILE (32D: Ethiopia's Selassie) HAILE Selassie was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.
  • AMISH (39D: Many Pennsylvania Dutch speakers) This is the third time in a week that we have seen the word AMISH in the puzzle. We saw it on July 4 and yesterday.
Geography review:
  • EURO (2D: Currency in France) Today is the third day in a row we've seen the currency of a country as a clue. Tuesday's puzzle feature the Uruguayan peso, and yesterday we saw the Dominican peso. France's currency is not the peso, however, but the EURO.
  • ETNA (11D: Sicilian volcano) Mt. ETNA is an active volcano on the Mediterranean island of Sicily, Italy.
  • MAUNA (18D: ___ Kea (highest point in Hawaii)) MAUNA Kea is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawai'i.
  • OMAHA (25D: Largest city in Nebraska) The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln, but its largest city is OMAHA. 
  • ROMAN (26D: From Italy's capital) There have been ROMAN citizens since the founding of Rome in 753 BCE.
I trust this puzzle held your INTEREST long enough for you to successfully solve it. My favorite theme answer today was the sassy, "ISN'T THAT SPECIAL?" This puzzle presented some challenges to me, as some of the things I didn't know took a bit of figuring out. After all, I don't know everything since I'M ONLY HUMAN, but that's okay! It was a good challenge and an enjoyable way to begin my Thursday.

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