February 9, 2024


Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Editor: Jared Goudsmit 

Theme Answers:
SOURCE MATERIAL (19A: Work referenced in a research paper)
SOUP BOWL (26A: Vessel for mohinga or minestrone)
SOUR BALL (42A: Tart, round candy)
SOUTH CENTRAL (47A: Neighborhood mentioned in the song "California Love")

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer BREAKs the word SOUL, such that the letters SOU- are at the beginning of the answer, and the letter -L is at the end.
Things I learned:
  • ROTI (17A: ___ canai (flatbread dish)) ROTI canai is a popular breakfast and snack in Southeast Asia, especially in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The flatbread is made by rolling dough out until it is paper thin, and then rolling or folding it to create multiple layers. Although I wasn't familiar with this particular ROTI, the "flatbread" hint tipped me off that the answer might be ROTI, naan, or pita, three four-letter flatbreads that appear frequently in crosswords. 
  • ORION (27D: Drag queen ___ Story) ORION Story competed on the fourteenth season of RuPaul's Drag Race.
  • ALA (55D: Arroz ___ tumbada) Arroz a la tumbada is a traditional Mexican dish. It is a one-pot dish of RICE and seafood cooked with tomato, onion, garlic, and red pepper.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MADE (9A: "___ You Look" (Meghan Trainor hit)) "MADE You Look" is a song by Meghan Trainor. The song was part of a TikTok dance challenge in 2022. I am a fan of the use of song titles as clues.
  • TREAT (18A: Pet's reward) Willow would like to know if she could have a TREAT
    The head and one paw of a calico cat is visible, and it is apparent the cat is sitting on a person's lap while the person is seated at a desk. The cat is looking right at the camera.

    for helping me write this blog post. Perhaps...
  • SOUP BOWL (26A: Vessel for mohinga or minestrone) Mohinga is a RICE noodle and fish SOUP associated with Burmese cuisine. Minestrone is a vegetable SOUP of Italian origin that often includes pasta and/or RICE.
  • ARIA (32A: Solo for Denyce Graves) Opera singer Denyce Graves made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995. She has performed at opera houses and concert halls around the world, and has "been a featured artist on national public television in everything from Great Performances to Sesame Street." In 2021, she founded the Denyce Graves Foundation in order to elevate the work of singers at all stages in their career, and to honor musicians of color whose stories have not been told, and who have been "hidden musical figures."
  • NIA (39A: "Missing" actress Long) In the 2023 movie Missing, NIA Long plays the role of Grace Allen, a woman who goes missing while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend. Grace's daughter, June (Storm Reid), searches for her mother.
  • SOTU (3D: Annual presidential speech (Abbr.)) The President of the United States delivers the State of the Union (SOTU) address each year before a joint session of Congress.
  • MARIMBA (9D: Xylophonelike instrument with a Bantu name) The MARIMBA is a percussion instrument that consists of wooden bars atop resonator pipes. Mallets are used to strike the bars. As the clue informs us, the word "MARIMBA" is of Bantu origin; it derives from the words for "many" and "xylophone." Here's a fun video I found of the Legend of Zelda theme being played on a MARIMBA. 
  • RICE (50D: Nasi lemak grain) Nasi lemak is a dish of RICE cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. Nasi lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia.

    Geography review:

    • RHODE (40A: ___ Island (the Ocean State)) RHODE Island is the smallest U.S. state by area. There is an island called RHODE Island (also called Aquidneck Island), from which the state gets its name, however most of the state's land area is on the mainland. RHODE Island borders Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the Atlantic Ocean. The state's nickname is The Ocean State, and its capital is Providence.
    • SOUTH CENTRAL (47A: Neighborhood mentioned in the song "California Love") "California Love" is a 1995 song by rapper 2Pac featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman. The song mentions a number of cities and neighborhoods in California, including SOUTH CENTRAL, a neighborhood of Los Angeles.
    • SOCAL (26D: Santa Barbara's region, for short) Speaking of California... The SOCAL (Southern California) region includes California's ten southernmost counties. Santa Barbara is located in SOCAL, and is the county seat of Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara is located on a south-facing section of California's coast, and its climate is Mediterranean-like.
    • LAKE (29D: ___ Louise (body of water at Banff National Park)) LAKE Louise is a glacial LAKE located within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The glacial flour carried into the lake by the melt-water from glaciers gives the water a turquoise color.
      A turquoise-colored lake is viewed through a frame of pine tree branches. In the background is a mountain.
      LAKE Louise
      My husband and I visited LAKE Louise last September as part of a road trip across western Canada. LAKE Louise is definitely beautiful; its turquoise color is stunning. It's also an extremely popular tourist spot, so it's not the place to visit if you're looking to get away from crowds of people.
    • HILO (49D: City on Hawaii's Big Island) HILO is located on the island of Hawai'i. It is the oldest city in the state of Hawaii; it has been inhabited since approximately 1100 CE.
    "BREAK MY SOUL" is a 2022 song by BeyoncĂ©. It is the lead single from her Renaissance album. BREAK MY SOUL is also a great crossword theme, as shown by this puzzle. Thank you, Stella, for this wonderful puzzle.