Constructor's CommentsI recall that my initial idea for this theme was to use U.S. state capitals that were homophones for other words. I remember having one idea along these lines—can't even remember which capital that was now. But what I do remember was that with only 50 of them, there weren't enough to make a complete theme. That's when I thought, "Hey, there's a lot more world capitals than state capitals," and voilà—a theme was born! My initial list of theme entries included BERN RUBBER and SEOUL MUSIC, both of which I thought were great, but David correctly pointed out that with five themers, things would probably work better if I abandoned 10-letter entries and went with all 9s in addition to the 13 in the center. What helped even more was how it worked out that two of them could be Down entries crossing with that center 13.
Also, thanks to David for coming up with an appropriate title for the puzzle. Coming up with good puzzle titles is a skill I'm still trying to master.