MGWCC #315

crossword 4:44
meta 0:10 

mgwcc315hello and welcome to week #315 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Group Think”. the instructions for this week 2 puzzle, coinciding with the start of the world cup, ask us for one of the eight Groups currently competing in the World Cup. what are the theme answers?

  • {More than offended (artist)} clues SCANDALIZED.
  • {Common statistic (athlete)} is a NATIONAL AVERAGE.
  • {Rival of Stouffer’s and Boston Market (novelist)} is MARIE CALLENDER’S. i had a ton of trouble with this answer, as i’ve never heard of this … store? food brand? the first two crossings were a little ambiguous for my tastes—{Nine: Lat.} NOVEM, where NOVE_ was fairly clear but i wasn’t quite sure about the word form (nine can be a noun or an adjective, and latin has different word endings for all situations), and {Compadre} AMIGA, which could certainly be AMIGO (and indeed, i had AMIGO for a long while).
  • {Fewer than (explorer)} clues the phrase NOT AS MANY AS, which doesn’t quite hang together as an “in the language” phrase for me.

anyway, with the help of the parenthetical notes, we can see that there are names of famous people hidden in the theme answers: the artist in SCANDALIZED is salvador DALI, the athlete in NATIONAL AVERAGE is tennis star rod LAVER, the novelist in MARIE CALLENDER’S is isabel ALLENDE, and the explorer in NOT AS MANY AS is abel TASMAN. these people hail from spain, australia, chile, and the netherlands, respectively, so we’re talking about group B in the world cup in brazil.

this is a nice meta—pretty easy once you start looking at those theme answers with the parenthetical notes in mind, but not so obvious that it jumps off the page at you. i like how TASMAN actually forms a link between two of the nations, as he was dutch by birth but explored the tasman sea and became the namesake of tasmania, australia. there’s another link between the other two countries as well as the world cup hosts brazil, and it’s the name salvador: DALI’s first name, of course, but also the first name of chilean president salvador ALLENDE (cousin of the novelist)—as well as one of the host cities of the world cup.

in fact, the arena fonte nova in salvador was the site of the opening match of group B on friday, a shocking match that saw defending champions (and FIFA #1-ranked) spain thrashed 5-1 by the netherlands. the result put a huge dent in spain’s chances to repeat, or even to qualify from the knockouts from the toughest group draw in the world cup. on a more poignant note, the second half of that match was tough to watch for fans of spain’s classy goalkeeper iker casillas, a national legend who was largely or wholly at fault for the last three dutch goals. i wonder if we’ll see a backup in goal for spain when they take the field tomorrow against chile in rio de janeiro with their tournament on the line.

have you been watching the world cup? i’ve been more than a little obsessed—i didn’t catch iran-nigeria yesterday (from what it sounds like, i didn’t miss much), but i’ve watched the other 14 matches so far and have been enjoying the tournament immensely. plenty of excitement, goals galore, comeback wins, and last night a dramatic win for the USA in their first match, claiming a measure of revenge against ghana, who knocked the americans out of the last two world cups. tonight, my own country of birth, south korea, will kick off their tournament against russia. i can’t wait.

oh, and speaking of the world cup in brazil, i’ll be there next week with my wife and son to take part in the festivities. never fear, though—genial webmaster and sometime blogger evad will be here to step in and i’m sure he will ably fill my shoes for MGWCC #316. see you in a few weeks!

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13 Responses to MGWCC #315

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Obrigado, joon. Houve 606 respostas corretas nesta semana.

  2. Jeff G. says:

    Excellent World Cup meta! None of the names jumped out for me, it took a lot of staring… Finally Laver appeared.

    • Ed F says:

      Dali was the first one I recognized (but it didn’t exactly jump out), then everything quickly fell into place.

  3. Jim S. says:

    I started off on the wrong foot, but eventually got it. I didn’t identify the hidden name theme immediately, so I instead googled “Scandalized artist”, leading me to Alexander Mark Rossi, who painted Scandalized. Per Wikipedia, he’s British but was born in Greece. That led to 2 possible options with Greece in Group C and England in Group D – what to do there? Now, I’m no soccer guy, but I know that Britain does not equal England in the soccer world. Googling the other themes didn’t reveal any clarifications, so I looked elsewhere and quickly spotted Dali and Laver, leading to the correct answer.

  4. Norm says:

    I often get stumped at week 2 and was pleased to find this one quite easy. DALI jumped out of SCANDALIZED from the get go. I almost wish Matt had left out the parentheticals, but that would probably have made it way too hard.

    • bencoe says:

      I agree, Norm, about the parentheticals. Would have made this tougher to crack, but probably not much for me, since I am a big Netherlands fan and was looking for group B from the start.
      I also agree with joon regarding the NOVEM/AMIGA/MARIE section, which was definitely the hardest part of the grid for me.
      joon, you really didn’t miss anything in that Iran/Nigeria game. Aside from the lack of score, it wasn’t that great of play–Nigeria was consistently impatient and sloppy, while Iran was far too slow and careful. No one got anything going.

  5. I found DALI and TASMAN pretty quickly, but it took me a lot of googling random substrings of the other ones before I hit on LAVER and ALLENDE. I got stuck up on Rolando VERA of Ecuador for a while, and I kept trying unsuccessfully to find someone famous enough named ALLEN from either Chile or Australia before I finally found it.

  6. Jeffurry says:

    I got DALI and TASMAN right away but never got the other two. Good thing it didn’t matter.

  7. Wayne says:

    Got DALI and TASMAN, but stupidly filed TASMAN under Australia. I say “stupidly” because I knew both that he wasn’t born there; and that Matt is too good to create a theme with that much inconsistency.

    The subsequent “Netherlands athlete” googling was bewildering. Eventually I untangled myself. Five stars.

    On to week 3.

    • Justin says:

      Wayne, same here. Had Tasman as an Aussie, didn’t think of checking, submitted my answer anyways. Googling netherlands/dutch athlete was a struggle!

  8. mnemonica says:

    The cluing of “amiga” didn’t slow me down that much, but it did bother me. Where I live, the feminine of “compadre” is “comadre.” I understand that meanings get changed as foreign words are assimilated, but I don’t know anyone who would call a guy “amiga.”

  9. Dele says:

    Enjoy your trip, joon!

  10. makfan says:

    Marie Callender’s is a restaurant chain, mostly west coast I think. They are infamous for filing bankruptcy two or three years ago, which resulted in closing several locations while people were eating or waiting for their food.

    Having read a couple of Isable Allende’s books, I got that one right away. Then Dali stood out and with Spain and Chile in the same group, the answer was pretty obvious. I had to Google to remember Tasman and Laver was a complete unknown.

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