meta a couple of minutes at most
Hi, Evad here in all his capital letter glory, subbing for joon who I believe had a front row seat for Sunday’s South Korea-Algeria game, which looked like an Algerian rout until the second half when Son and Koo scored to halve the deficit. I don’t believe that they’re out of contention in group H, but must beat group leader Belgium later this week to move on to the knockout rounds.
So on to today’s Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest puzzle entitled “Cross-Cultural Exchange.” This week the hint to the meta puzzle answer was “a foreign language.” I immediately thought Portuguese given the host country of this year’s World Cup, but then I recalled a puzzle which asked us to name the country Matt had recently vacationed in and all the entries shared only the eight letters in the country PORTUGAL. (It was # 149.) Could lightning strike twice? Let’s look at the theme entries (which were conveniently starred this week):
- 17a: [Sentry's (rather naive) question] was FRIEND OR FOE
- 39a: [Famous African boy] was KING TUT – who died at the tender age of 18
- 61a: [Bananarama hit used in "The Karate Kid"] clued CRUEL SUMMER – right in my wheelhouse, that one.
- 11d: [Hardly a thoroughfare] was SIDE STREET
- 29d: [River stuff] was SWEET WATER – what kind of river are we talking about here?
It wasn’t long before I noticed that some short French words crossed these theme words just like a Ronaldo (sorry!) cross-shot in front of the goal:
- AMI crossing FRIEND
- ROI crossing KING
- ÉTÉ crossing SUMMER
- RUE crossing STREET
- EAU crossing WATER
So the sought-after language was French (or Français, as I and a few other solvers submitted). I think it was ingenious to find these five French words that could be easily embedded in longer English words and shared a letter with their English translation.
A quick recap of some other other clues/entries:
- Did you notice the tie-back to last week’s puzzle with the clue for 1a: [Dali's days] for DÍAS? Dali provided the Spanish entry in the answer of Group B and these defending champs left Brazil yesterday with just one win against the much lower-ranked Socceroos. Notice too the symmetrically placed 69a [Not, in Netherlands] for NIET, another Group B competitor.
- We stay on the pitch with 56a: [___ Hurst, only player to ever score a hat-trick in a World Cup final (1966)], which was GEOFF. An English player, and one of those 3 goals was controversial. England is another team who disappointed their fans this year; but Wayne Rooney’s World Cup scoring drought was at least finally broken.
- Sir Hurst crossed 40d: [First language of 75 million people (but not the meta answer!)] or TELUGU. A good thing this Indian dialect wasn’t the meta answer; week 5 maybe, not 3.
- IMRE Nagy, leader of the Hungarian Soviet revolt of 1956, was executed by Khrushchev after the revolution was crushed.
- A six-letter partial in 4d: ["...have eyes but ___"] for SEE NOT. More recent translations of Mark 8:18 say “cannot see.” Another questionable lexical chunk was NO LUCK, clued as ["Things went differently from how I'd planned"]. (I might add a “such” in there myself.)
- OFFCUT, or [Leftover cloth] at 47d was a new term to me; I read that it’s Chiefly British, which might explain its unfamiliarity.
- Loved the crossing of PRUDE and UNDIES.
So, was Matt a SOFTY this week or did you find him more like that [Eponymous libertine] DE SADE?