MGWCC #108

crossword 8:30 (across lite)
puzzle 1:50

mgwcc108i’m back! okay, so i was actually back pinch-blogging for amy yesterday… and the day before… and the day before that… and the day before that. but this is my first MGWCC post since before my daughter was born, which seems a very long time ago, but she’s only two weeks old.

anyway, here we are with the 108th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “I Have Zero Interest in the World Cup.” the title is quite a lie for me; i have more interest in the world cup than pretty much everything else in my life at the moment, possibly including my newborn daughter. should i admit that? she’s cute and of course i love her very much, but she doesn’t actually do very much yet. toddler sam is quite a bit more interesting, but he’s always around, whereas the world cup only happens every four years. but i digress! the puzzle instructions are to identify the two countries who competed in the 2010 World Cup game referenced by this puzzle’s theme. what’s the theme, then? well, there are no long theme answers, but it’s a NIL rebus, the first rebus of any kind in the MGWCC. the screenshot has 0s in the rebus squares, which i admit is not all that different-looking from O, but here’s a list of the rebus answers:

  • {“You might not believe this, but…”} is “FUN[NIL]Y ENOUGH…” crossing {___ implant}, which turned out, much to my surprise, to be PE[NIL]E.
  • {___ Wafers} [NIL]LA crosses the {Role for which David won four Emmys} [NIL]ES crane, played by david hyde pierce.
  • {Half a 1970s duo} is TEN[NIL]LE. the other half is the captain, although to be honest… i don’t know anything about this duo other than the existence of the words “the captain and tennille” as a lexical unit. honestly, i think i’ve got them mixed up with captain kangaroo, which is also something but i don’t know what. is this a music group? and yet, this is where i sussed out the rebus, perhaps because the crossing {Demarcations of private areas on women’s bodies} BIKI[NI L]INES was pretty obvious.
  • {Scoop selection} is VA[NIL]LA, crossing {He didn’t write “I Write the Songs”}, barry MA[NIL]OW. although that clue isn’t very specific, is it? i didn’t write that song, either.
  • {Forgetting a lot, say} may be SE[NIL]E, only one letter off from 4d. this crossed A[NIL]E, clued as {Like certain seniors}. not a very pleasant crossing if you happen to be an elderly woman, is it? but of course you do hip crosswords, which means you’re unlikely to be either SENILE or ANILE.
  • {City called “The Pearl of the Orient”} MA[NIL]A. i know i’ve seen this clue before, but even with MA__ i couldn’t drag it out of my brain until i cracked the rebus. the crossing is the great {Question from someone covering their eyes}, “CA[N I L]OOK NOW?” with the rebus broken across three words. sweet!
  • {Chicago suburb} ELGI[N, IL]LINOIS is unknown to me, but by then i knew the rebus and figured out the ILLINOIS part. the crossing word was {Score of the USA’s win over Algeria on Wednesday}, ONE-[NIL].

that last one was the only clue in which NIL was being used in its soccer sense, as the term brits prefer for “zero” or “nothing” in a soccer score (hence the puzzle title). anyway, so what’s the meta answer? my first thought was: two teams that played to a 0-0 draw (or “nil all,” as they say across the pond). but that’s not uniquely identifying. uruguay and france drew 0-0 on the first day of the tournament. boring, boring portugal has two 0-0 draws, with both brazil and ivory coast. england-algeria, paraguay-new zealand, and switzerland-honduras are the other goalless draws in the tournament (so far). so i knew it couldn’t be any of them.

what else could it be, then? i counted the rebus squares: 7. seven NILs… and then it hit me. portugal and north korea, a contest which ended 7-0 to portugal, or seven-nil. that must be it. oddly enough, portugal (as of this posting) is still alive even though they have yet to breach any defense other than that of the DPRK. the 7-0 thrashing was enough to qualify them from group H ahead of côte d’ivoire on goal difference. and now they actually have a great chance to take out pre-tournament favorites spain tomorrow afternoon. i guess we’ll see.

i’m too tired to do a fill roundup, but i’ll mentioned that i liked SEXILE, the {State of being forbidden to enter one’s own dorm room due to one’s roommate being engaged in romantic activity therein}. and the OMAR clue, {He co-starred with Val in “Top Secret!”} (he being OMAR sharif, not epps), is a nice shout-out to my favorite movie ever.

best clue: {As one is} for ODD, just like the number 1.

well, that was june. it was no mayhem for me, but then again, i’m really into the world cup. how’d it treat the rest of you?

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19 Responses to MGWCC #108

  1. SethG says:

    Just the other day we were discussing Val’s career. We couldn’t agree on what his best movie was, but we all agreed that Real Genius and the Tops, Secret! and Gun, were the top 3. They were also his first three, it’s all been downhill from there.

    joon, neither you nor Barry wrote “I Write The Songs”, but one of you was the one who sang it. He is music.

  2. Karen says:

    Captain and Tennille I associate with the song Muskrat Love. And goofy naval hats. My parents must have had their album.

    I cracked the rebus at the NILLA wafers. It had to be nilla or necco. I needed all the crosses for SEXILE.

    I had a hard time with the theme because I counted six NILs (overlooking the senile one, I know) and was thinking of the two shut-out teams, Algeria and Honduras. Once I recounted them I knew the answer. I care about the world cup…I’ve got it streaming at work right now (Paraguay v Japan) to catch it in between patients.

  3. jimmy d says:

    Shoot! I mistakenly only counted 6 ‘nils’, and I sent in the two countries that failed to score in the group stage, Honduras and Algeria… but now I see that Matt was referencing a specific game, and there were 7 nils… oh well…

    And congrats to you, Joon… my second daughter was born on June 12, during the first half of the USA/England match!! (The doctor and I were watching the match between contractions…true story!!) So, I have had a 2 week-old distracting me from my MGWCC duties too (1-for-4 this month!)… back to business in July!!

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    153 correct answers this week.

    Japan just lost to Paraguay on PKs — the South American teams are doing very well this year — Paraguay AND Uruguay in the round of 8!

  5. Neville says:

    Now I came up with North Korea and Cameroon, because in their groups, they each scored nil as an overall point total. However, both Joon’s answer and Jimmy D’s make sense to me as well. I’ll chalk my failure up to it being the end of the month :)

    Congratulations again, Joon!

  6. Meg says:

    Well, I am busted for June! I checked all 32 countries and SLOVENIA and SWITZERLAND were the only 2 that had all 3 of the letters in NIL. Now come on, isn’t this a reasonable answer? Would Matt expect me to check scores? Apparently, yes.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    Meg —

    Several people submitted entries like yours, using different logic than the 7-0 Portugal-North Korea answer.

    But notice that most of these answers, including Switzerland-Slovenia, don’t meet the stipulation in the instructions that the two teams played a game against each other in the World Cup (“This week’s contest answer is the two countries who competed in the 2010 World Cup game referenced by this puzzle’s theme.”)

  8. Pam says:

    Wow! More correct answers in the 4th week than the 3rd. I solved the meta so quickly this week that I was afraid I hadn’t looked hard enough for the right answer. Thank heavens I stuck with it. However, I’m nervous about July since June was so easy. But then, maybe it was a thank you to his donors…you know, make ’em feel smart for a change?

  9. Evad says:

    Yeah I kept trying to see which of the nil-nil games was the one Matt was getting at as well. I even went to the effort of writing down the first letter of the clues which had NIL in their entries, thinking they may spell out two country abbreviations, but I had way more than 6 letters to play with there. Finally counted the NILs and came to the 7-NIL score, and I agree, having ONE-NIL in the puzzle helped point me toward that.

  10. Meg says:

    Matt: I am not squishing sour grapes between my toes, but had your directions said “competed AGAINST EACH OTHER” as in your comment above, I might have gone another route. “2 teams who competed in the 2010 World Cup” to me just meant that they played in the World Cup and therefore just had to be 2 of the 32 teams. S’OK. It’s good for the soul to lose every once in awhile.

  11. joon says:

    but the instructions said “competed in the 2010 world cup game referenced by this puzzle’s theme.” that means two teams who played against each other.

  12. Abby says:

    Oh! I picked two teams that had only scored nil from the list of games on the page you referenced. I did wonder why that was only six games for seven nils, but I thought it was right. :-( I already knew I don’t know from soccer, but I thought I had a handle on the meta.

  13. Karen says:

    Of course the other problem with the Algeria/Honduras answer was that when Matt sent out the puzzle, the Honduras game was still going on. That’s what made me take another look. Plus of course re-reading the instructions more carefully.

  14. Noam 0. Elkies says:

    Just noticed: [NIL]LA and VA[NIL]LA in the same puzzle? I always assumed that
    Nilla wafers were named for vanilla, and the Nilla wikipage confirms…

    Neat puzzle otherwise,

  15. Meg says:

    How did I miss that little word “game” in the directions? That does change everything.

  16. Matt Gaffney says:

    Noam — one other solver pointed that out. I didn’t notice it while constructing; not sure whether it’s legit or not, close call. My options for **NIL** and NIL** were so constricted that I might have had to use 0LA and VA0LA even if I had noticed the semi-dupe.

  17. abide says:

    @Meg- I did see the word “game” in the instructions, but the plural fairy added an “s”, putting me in the Algeria/Honduras camp.

  18. sps says:

    Doncha just hate the plural fairy…? Got me too, I’m afraid.

  19. Jim says:

    Add another Algeria/Hondurus answerer here. Oh well…

    Still Nil for getting a prize

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