One-named Japanese actor with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame / SAT 8-14-21 / The 700s in the Dewey Decimal System / Its pods are poisonous to eat / Sacred peak in Iliad and Aeneid / eponymous gymnastics move featuring two backflips and a triple twist

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Constructor: Nam Jin Yoon

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: MAKO (44D: One-named Japanese-born actor with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) —

Makoto Iwamatsu (岩松 信Iwamatsu Makoto, December 10, 1933 – July 21, 2006) was a Japanese-American actor, credited in almost all of his acting roles as simply Mako.

His film roles include Po-Han in The Sand Pebbles (1966) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Oomiak "The Fearless One" in The Island at the Top of the World (1974), Akiro the Wizard in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984), and Kungo Tsarong in Seven Years in Tibet (1997). He was part of the original cast of Stephen Sondheim's 1976 Broadway musical Pacific Overtures, which earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He was also one of the founding members of East West Players.

Later in his career, he became well known for his voice acting roles, including Aku in the first four seasons of Samurai Jack (2001–2004), and Iroh in the first two seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005–2006). He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7095 Hollywood Blvd.

• • •

So good. Still have never done a bad or even a blah puzzle by this constructor. It's as if he just dropped from the sky last year, a fully seasoned constructor, dropping these little finely-crafted contemporary jewels every six weeks or so. I liked the puzzle so much that I did not notice until just now that BASES appears twice as a stand-alone word in the puzzle (AIR BASES, FAN BASES), and then again in the singular (BASE TWO). If there's a joke there, I don't get it. Three bases is a ... triple? Is there a hidden baseball theme? Please let there be a hidden baseball theme [looking ... looking] bah, I don't see it. Ah well, as the crowd screamed to the DJ, "Drop the BASE!" Or, maybe the issue is actually the letter string "BAS" (there are four of those—see BASRA at 39D), in which case I'd say this puzzle could use a little [wait + for + it] BAS-RELIEF! ... Come on! That's top-shelf wordplay right there. I thank you in advance for your applause.

But back to the greatness. I do feel like a Saturday puzzle that offers me 1-Across for free, as an introductory enticement / amuse-bouche, is one to which I'm apt to be warmly disposed. CLEATS gave me traction (hmmm ... yes ... yes, I like that) (1A: Quarterback spikes?), and then, well, who doesn't like a cold Cuba Libre (with LIME!) ([slow sip] ... aaah). Anyway, I was off and running, and all of a sudden beautiful answers started exploding around me. "THAT HURT!" and GAUNTLET gave the puzzle a daunting tone, but the actual experience was not harsh at all. And then "THIS IS AMERICA" floated across the top of the grid and I knew something special was going on. Again, the tone of that song / video is dark, but as a puzzle answer, "THIS IS AMERICA" is unexpected and beautiful. Served over NBC's old PSA phrase ("THE MORE YOU KNOW..."), "THIS IS AMERICA" gives this puzzle an amazing flavor. Part polemics, part party. It's not going to let you forget about the darkness (MISOGYNY!) but it's also not going to let you have a bad time. A real MIRACLE WORKER, this one.

[This is happening right next to me, right now ... what is she even doing?
... that is not a designated, or even plausible, cat space]

I know the phrase "money doesn't grow on trees" but I did not know that MONEY TREES were "fabled" as actual sources of money. I also didn't know who MAKO was, but I'm surprised now that I didn't. I've definitely encountered his work (the voice of Aku on "Samurai Jack"! Such a great show). See what cool things you can learn when you buck the stale clue trend (not to mention the shark union!) and seek out new cluing options. I love that CHESS had a Checkers-looking clue (1D: Game of checkers?) and SAYING had a sight-looking clue (6D: Saw). Nice misdirection on both counts. The clue on MILLENNIAL is the real high point today (19D: Member of the "Y"?)—I struggled with it and then had that struggle rewarded with a genuine feeling of revelation. A + ha. Oh, *that* "Y"! Generation Y. I got you. The "?" on that clue is doing work, but it's good work. As for mistakes, I didn't make many. Had SCRUB before SCOUR (10D: Really clean)—that would've caused merely a minor slow-down, but SCOUR was right next door to TAWNY (11D: Caramel relative), which I (very confidently) had as TAFFY (it's a very good wrong answer), so the slow-down became more than minor. But still not disastrous. This was an appropriately Saturday-level struggle, one that I enjoyed tremendously. I will always remember this as the puzzle that name-dropped Andrea Dworkin. Not an event I expected to see in my lifetime. Props for boldness. Good day.

[warning: sudden gun violence]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. R.I.P. to one of the true, great, longstanding musical loves of my life:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jsloate 6:33 AM  

Rex, Excellent word play!

britSolvesNYT 6:40 AM  

Medium difficulty here, and enjoyment-wise, pretty average for a Saturday. Allowing BASE three times in one grid is… not good.

Lewis 6:45 AM  

Look at the expertise that went into this. A low word count puzzle with ugly answers SCOURed out – try making one sometime! Clues that confound through vagueness (SAW, i.e.), misdirection (TIDE, i.e.) and tricky wordplay (CHESS, i.e.); when you look at the answers, there are very few answers and phrases that are unfamiliar, and so the GAUNTLET comes through superior cluing.

All this produced for me a solve filled with stabs, pings, gradually spreading fills, victories, chuckles and more – that Saturday experience unlike any other that makes me so grateful to be an aficionado.

This was one of the terrific ones. NJY, your grid looks like a big S, like the one on Superman’s chest, and today that is a totally appropriate comparison. Thank you for this!

The3rddoctor 6:58 AM  

Don’t you mean ANDREA Dworkin? Misogyny at its best.

OffTheGrid 6:59 AM  


Loren Muse Smith 7:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sf27shirley 7:07 AM  

Probably autocorrect can be blamed for that.

OffTheGrid 7:16 AM  


Son Volt 7:23 AM  

Not as high on this as Rex. Goofy looking grid, low word count and still tripling up on BASE? Surprised the staff allowed that. I thought the clueing was trying a little too hard. No real bad fill - just strained. THIS IS AMERICA was used recently in an ESPN story about the NFL. The ! in the Huh clue was clunky. BELLED, BCCS and MT IDA?

Did like MAINE and the ELIOT quote. Hand up for putting in Taffy before TAWNY.

Overall a decent Saturday - but I’ll take Mossberg’s stumper over this.

Joe Dipinto 7:25 AM  

Ah yes, the eminently quotable feminist Andrew Dworkin. You don't hear much about them anymore.

There's really only way to describe this puzzle.

Owen Wilson (1912) 7:32 AM  

From the constructor at Xword info:

Three bases in one grid; call that a trip.

Loren Muse Smith 7:42 AM  

Rex - I totally missed the three BASEs. And I'm trying to figure out how to get me some Nanci Griffith songs on my phone now. Thanks!

The perfect Saturday experience – that feeling that you’ll just never be able to finish, but little by little, LETTER by LETTER you claw your way to victory.

It seems I just recently learned here what a STAN is: a big fan. I’m happy to know now that it can be a verb, too, and will add it into the rotation forthwith. I’ve looked into it, and it seems you can STAN for Queen, say, or simply STAN Queen. (I keep checking Meriam Webster to see if they’ve realized that cheers has become a full-on transitive verb, as in We need to cheers Nam Jin Yoon! or Who are we cheersing this time? I swear. I hear it used this way all the time on the crappy tv I stan.)

I confidently wrote in “zip” LINES for the quick getaways. Defensible. At my cousin’s rehearsal dinner decades ago, I was seated with my SIBS and Aunt LaVerne as we endured the endless groom-roasting stories that are inevitable with the perfect storm of good buddies, a microphone, and the alcohol-fueled assumption that said buddies are eloquent and funny. I mean we sat there for well over an hour, LaVerne squirming more and more, desperate with the discomfort of having EATEN rich food and a lot of it. When it was finally over, we made a BEE LINE for the bathroom and LaVerne disappeared into the lone stall before the flood of other attendees entered to take their place in line. So she was unaware that her carryings-on would then be quite conspicuous. My SIBS and I just stood there staring at the floor.

Speaking of SIB, my sister Meagan and I were walking past the porta-potty at the tennis club – they’re rebuilding after a fire so no plumbing yet. This is a seriously nice porta-potty, so nice that you almost wouldn’t know it’s a porta-potty: his and her rooms, sinks, stall, aggressively clean. . . Meagan and I are alike in many ways, but an affinity for language is not one she shares. I shoulda known better, but I went for it:

Me: You know that “to let” can mean “to rent” right?
Meagan: Yeah. I guess. (Waves to a friend)
Me: And “dear” used to mean expensive, right?
Meagan: (Digging in tennis bag for water) Uh huh.
Me: So you could argue that the company that furnishes this bathroom is a dear John LETTER.
Meagan: I don’t understand.
Me: Get it? Expensive bathroom renter? Dear John LETTER?
Meagan: (Blank stare and then a little polite laugh) Oh, right.

amyyanni 7:49 AM  

Agree, this is a perfect Saturday. Go through once and find a few small toehold, then chip away earnestly and voila! Wonderful. And finished well before Scott starts.
And yes, Rex, so sad. Nanci had a distinctive musicality and died too soon.

bocamp 7:50 AM  

Thx, Nam; excellent Sat. puz! :)

Easy-med solve.

Got CLEATS / CHESS right off, and branched out from there.

Very much on my wavelength, with a few exceptions in the SE.

MATER / MAKO / MIRACLE WORKER were unknowns, but nothing else made sense, so …

Overall, a most enjoyable trip. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Mireille 8:07 AM  

I tore through this for a near record for a Saturday. Dunno why but this was super duper easy for me. And even though he only appeared in 4 episodes, I associate Mako with MASH, having grown up a little before and during the rise of cable TV and MASH omnipresence in syndicated television it feels like I saw his episodes dozens of times.

kitshef 8:08 AM  

Fun puzzle overall. Don’t understand why 1A has a ?.

Game of checkers would be a great clue for ice hockey, too.

Not sure ‘legend’ can be applied to Phil SIMMS. None of the definitions in my dictionaries quite fit. Fine player, but I think there is some grade inflation going on.

Lobster11 8:11 AM  

In defense of the BASE three-peat, they are all very different meanings of the word -- which is probably why some of us didn't even notice until it was pointed out. I say no harm, no foul.

Carola 8:25 AM  

Medium for me, too, averaging out some write-right-ins (GAUNTLET, MISOGYNY, MONEY TREES) with some really tough nuts to crack. Lots to like! I hadn't heard of the song, but THIS IS AMERICA could be followed with a colon and then CLEATS (NFL), America FiRST, BLIND (fill in the blank), GUN, MAINE, BILES, and MUSICAL THEATER, which was my favorite entry, pushing aside GAUNTLET. I'm not sure about those three BASEs, though: I spent some minutes trying to reason why, in vain, and ended up thinking "off-BASE."

Do-overs: vie before GUN, honeY before TAWNy. tres before ESTA. Help from previous puzzles: STANS. No idea: SIMMS, MAKO, THiS IS AMERICA.

pabloinnh 8:31 AM  

Didn't speed through but didn't really get stuck either, so an advanced intermediate kind of slope with a couple of moguls and a couple of steep pitches to watch out for but in the end a success one can feel proud of, so a really nice puzzle, and that's enough information for one sentence.

CLEATS and CHESS right away fer sure, also MAINE--their flag is easy enough to see often around here--and RINGO. STANS may exist outside of a crossword but the next time I run into it in the wild will be the first.

Nice to see a new clue for ESO, "Por ESO", literally "for that", but "therefore" is a better translation.

Hesitated momentarily when I had _ATER between MATER and PATER, since __AKO was a WTF, but then remembered that Venus was definitely not a guy.

Really fun and satisfying Saturday, NJY. Nice Job You.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Cats tend to ignore human designations such as cat spaces. Mine used to think the keyboard (typewriter, in the old days, piano, or computer) was an appropriate cat couch, but only when I was using it.

They also seemingly squeeze into spaces that are too small, somehow becoming boneless in the process, and hopefully don't get stuck.

Joaquin 8:40 AM  

What a great day on the interwebs! Rex is in a good mood and flashing some outstanding wit. And LMS has "let" us back in her life.

I struggled with today's puzzle and didn't enjoy it as much as some seem to have. But coming here has my weekend off to a good start.

Jmorgie 8:50 AM  

Re .puz and nyt site:. I Highly recommend Shortyz app ...been using it on Android for years ... Does a nice job of aggregating many sources AND addresses all yr peeves with custom settings. Do try it!

Sheila 8:55 AM  

Andrea Dworkin does not pass the breakfast test.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

[You can delete this, "Rex".] I think you forgot to thank your guest bloggers ... (I am not a guest blogger!)

TTrimble 8:56 AM  

This played a little easier than yesterday's, if only because there were no patches where I got seriously stuck, but it was still slow going. CLEATS was my first entry, but was erased a little later because my knowledge of Spanish, small enough that you could wad it up and stick it in my eye, recognized only "que" as the add-on to "por". There were lots of write-overs like that. I think there were at least combinations of Greek stems before I finally settled on the (in-hindsight) obvious MISOGYNY. Another was "Athos" before MT IDA.

Still, I liked it. The clue for MUSICAL THEATER was just marvelous. And speaking of "Marvel", the puzzle tricked me into thinking of something to do with Marvel Comics, so often referred to in the NYTXW, only to have that be part of a straightforward definition of MIRACLE WORKER. Also devious was not dAuGhTER but GANGSTER for "Family member". And THROAT as a place for a frog. Great stuff.

Also was thinking (but not entering) TAffy before TAWNY. Had to run the alphabet to get the N in GUN (for). "Gun for" -- now that's a funny phrase. I suppose the original meaning was the sense of hunting someone down, which morphed into a sense to be hot on the TRAIL of, and thence* to the present meaning. But I also thought of gunning your engine as in revving your engine, hence getting excited and motivated.

Speaking of the quirkiness of the English language: @LMS's substitutional word play with LETTER reminded me of "ghoti". You ever seen that before? It's supposed to be pronounced "fish". The "gh" as in "rough", the "o" as in "lemon" (a schwa), and the "ti" as in "nation". So f-i-sh. I first heard of that in middle school, but only now do I learn from Wikipedia that somewhere in Finnegan's Wake is: "Gee each owe tea eye smells fish." ("G-H-O-T-I spells 'fish'.") Good gravy!

Nice write-up by Rex. I think the vacation did him some good.

*"Thence". Unlike Rex I think, I like these old-timey words. Hence, whence, thence. Hither, whither, thither. And yon.

Nancy 8:59 AM  

Like I was really planning to eat my TIDE pod. What a peculiar clue/answer is 31A. Oh wait, was that the "disinfectant" that the former president was urging us to ingest in order to kill Covid? A pod of TIDE. Who knew?

Speaking of knew, how in the world does "Huh!" = THE MORE YOU KNOW? This is the kind of clue/answer guaranteed to IRK me. And it seems like every day there's a different one. If only MONEY TREES sprang up like that, everywhere.

I had to cheat on THIS IS AMERICA. I tried to cheat without Googling
Childish Gambino (whoever he is) by simply typing in THIS IS A M-----. (THIS IS A MISERY? THIS IS A MURDER?) That's my way of feeling better about myself when I cheat -- using what I've already "earned" and not just typing the clue into Google -- but alas it was not to be. I had to eventually put in the singer's name because Google didn't recognize "THIS IS A M" as it surely would have recognized "THIS IS AM".

The bottom of this puzzle was fairer. (Other than the silly TIDE clue which was fairly
crossed at least.) I did much better there and I liked it much more. But basically the puzzle gave me a RUN for my money (I had VIE there, initially) and it held my interest throughout.

Andrew H 9:04 AM  

“What is an ADMI TONE!?” I screamed internally, having woken up far too early

Frantic Sloth 9:07 AM  

Rex, that is a write-up for the ages. Bravo! Plus a kitteh pic! ❤️

The perfect complement to the sublime "torture" of another Nam Jin Yoon masterpiece.
I always start out spewing WTFs, then gradually veer into Ahas and ooohs! Never fails with this constructor. Love it!

@J-Dip 725am That video review?Dead-on and priceless.

I'm embarrassed to admit having no prior knowledge of Nanci Griffith. Sheltered, myopic life and all that. But, one listen to "Love at the Five and Dime" and I was rapt. It's rare music that has me reaching for the Kleenex (John Prine's "Hello In There" has a similar effect), and now it will affect me for most of the day. Given my usual attention sp.., hey! What's that shiny thing over there?

(The) MIRACLEWORKER is one of those movies that I always have to drop everything and watch whenever it's on (usually TCM) television. It's the visual counterpart of the aforementioned songs. That dining room scene never fails to amaze. How they performed it 8 times a week is simply mystifying to me. Then again, I'm a sloth.


Donkos 9:08 AM  

Great review for a great puzzle. After finishing this puzzle, I said to myself if Rex doesn’t love this one, I will be very unhappy with him.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

The BASE thing is really bizarre. Can't remember an NYT themeless ever having a pointless three-time repetition like that.

mmorgan 9:21 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Terrific misdirects. Clever, challenging, and fun. It took me a while to get, um, traction, but it was yummy how things accelerated for me toward the end. A superb solving experience. I know MAKO from Pacific Overtures, none of the others. What a great puzzle!!

Hoping that the magic .puz links keep on working….

Nancy 9:21 AM  

@kitshef 8:08 -- Re Phil SIMMS not being a "legend". Look, not every football fan is lucky enough to get themselves a Joe Montana or a Tom Brady. When you root for* the Giants, you basically take what you get. SIMMS is, I suppose, the best we've had since Fran Tarkington. Or have I forgotten someone? I can usually be counted on to do so.

And btw, I "root for" the Giants. I don't "STANS" them. If you're a MILLENNIAL and you want to STANS them, it's fine by me -- even if I won't know what on earth you're talking about.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

The positioning of the three occurrences seems too intentional to be meaningless, surely? Otherwise, today I will be learning how to live with red herrings obstructing the discovery of… nothing. (“Nothing will come of nothing, speak again!”)

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Oops. To answer myself, I left out Eli Manning. I knew there was someone. But Eli was no Peyton, he disappointed me as often as he thrilled me, and I wouldn't call him a "legend" either.

JD 9:45 AM  

Hmm, This Is America, The More You Know, Blind Gun Misogyny Guantlet, That Hurt. Am I off Base-thinking that might be a theme? Not my editorial comment, but ya know. And does the big fat S grid shape have meaning?

Felt smarter than I really am in the north, Noh went in on the crosses and flew through it til I crashed at the Sibs, Nests, Mater line. It was a rewarding struggle from there down.

Clues of the year, Marvel Producer and Someone Good With Numbers. Diabolical wordplay. Bravo.

But why is Venus Cupid's Mater? Google tells me μητέρα or mitéra.

@Nancy, Yep, eating Tide pods was a fad. This is America.

Section 17 9:48 AM  

My take on the multiple bases: BASE TWO refers to the constructor’s inappropriate (from a purist’s view) use of the word BASE twice, which ironically creates a third. Nam Jin Yoon is poking fun at it all with some self-referential wordplay. Terrific puzzle.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Great puzzle indeed. But saddened to see the NYT acquiesce to the tide of GAUNTLET/GANTLET misuse. GAUNTLET is a glove you throw down, GANTLET is an ordeal you run (through). First time since pre-Shortz era that GAUNTLET has been used for the latter. Granted, the horse left the barn long ago in this one: Bryan Garner notes that the misuse started as early as 1800, and today GAUNTLET is (mis)used as an ordeal in 11 to 1 cases. But if we can’t trust the NYT to rage futilely against the dying night, who can we trust?

kitshef 9:53 AM  

@Nancy 9:21-7 I would consider Lawrence Taylor a Giants legend. Frank Gifford. Michael Strahan. Eli I think it's too soon to say. I think in fifteen years people will mostly remember two Super Bowls and an entire career as a Giant, and those will outweigh any flaws. I'm sure I've missed some on my list. Also, as a fan of a team whose last good quarterback was Norman Julius Esiason, I feel your pain.

@TTrimble 8:56 for 'ghoti', I heard 'o' as in 'women', which works I think better than 'lemon'.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

JD: It’s all Greek to me. Venus is Roman, not Greek (Aphrodite), MATER is Latin for mother.

Mary McCarty 10:05 AM  

JD: MATER is the Latin for mother, as Venus and Cupid are Latin for (Greek) Aphrodite, Eros and μητέρα.

bocamp 10:09 AM  

@Rex: best write-up ever! :)


'Dear John Letter' = priceless! :)

@TTrimble (8:56 AM)

'Ghoti' = 'fish'; love it! :)

@Nancy (9:21 AM)

Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr.

@kitshef (9:53 AM)

Agreed re: 'women' over 'lemon'.

-18 and already struggling

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

JD 10:15 AM  

Arg! Thank you @Michael Page and Mary McCarthy. Get my Greek and Latin gods straight. Now I have something to do today.

BTW. Ghoti was a famous crossword answer of years ago. Or has that already been noted?

sixtyni yogini 10:22 AM  

Welcome back, Rex.
Agree w your crit 100%.
Puzz had me at Childish Gambino ❤️- who’s brilliance shines - even in a brilliant 🧩

TTrimble 10:22 AM  

Oops, I left off the word "three" -- I meant to write "I think there were at least three combinations of Greek stems [I tried] before I finally settled on the (in-hindsight) obvious MISOGYNY.

Ah, thank you -- "women" works much better.

@JD was asking after MATER. That's Latin for "mother". And indeed Venus and Cupid are from Roman mythology, not Greek mythology, so the answer is as it should be. (Aphrodite and Eros are the Greek counterparts.)

@JD also beat me to informing @Nancy about the Tide Pod challenge. I never watched any of those vids. Kids do the craziest things.

Birchbark 10:37 AM  

The black-square corners make for an interesting dynamic that broke up my usual solving rhythm. Very slow at first and stabbing around, then MIRACLE WORKER (n.b. non-Norse Marvel clue) fell into place. And with it, the rest of the puzzle from the ground up in short order.

The pine tree on MAINE's flag, Minnesota-style: I spent yesterday in waders, sawing limbs and branches off of an ancient white pine that fell off the bluff and into the river in a recent storm. It almost spanned the back-channel out to the sand bar. After 7-1/2 hours, the passage is again canoeable. And I have an overdeveloped right arm and shoulder.

Pine trees release extraordinary amounts of resin when you saw them -- all sorts of natural oil slicks eddying downstream. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

Reno retired 10:39 AM  

Liked the puzzle. I confess that I never have and never will own a gun. That said I laugh at the liberal conundrum. It’s OK to promote misogynistic gun toting rappers but god help us if we put the NRA in a puzzle. I guess I’m old and confused.

Nancy 10:43 AM  

For @kitshef and @bocamp -- LT was of course a legend. One of the greatest defensive players of all time. Strahan, to me, a bit less so. I gather Gifford was, but he's before my days of watching football. But I was thinking of QB legends and none of the above were QBs.

Y.A. Tittle was a QB and he also wasn't before my time. I saw him play and I guess I should have thought of him. He was quite a good QB, as I remember. But did he win any Super Bowls? Were there even Super Bowls back then? Actually, I think there weren't, because there wasn't any AFC yet. Right?

I'm not quite sure how GHOTI got into the comments today, but I remember it (with "women" as the "O" sound) as being cited by a non-native-English speaker as a prime example of the absurdities of English pronunciation.

puzzlehoarder 10:45 AM  

This was a very solid medium Saturday. I started in the NE with the RINGO gimme and filled the puzzle steadily from NE to SW backfilling across the north. The 12A song was unknown to me and I'm not sure what the point of the 14A clue is. Maybe irony? The words were all easy to recognize and 14A is an actual phrase so like the rest of the puzzle those two entries were just steady Saturday level work.

I didn't notice the three BASEs until I read the constructor's notes. Maybe it's a play on "All three BASEs are loaded since the puzzle is "loaded" with all three BASEs. Maybe not. Either way it does nothing to tarnish this fine puzzle.

The debut clue for MAKO is a welcome relief from the obvious shake clues and I suspect that the editor may have only recently learned of the option. I certainly was unaware of the name until now but I clearly remember his performance in "The Sand Pebbles" and his pronunciation of "live steam."

egsforbreakfast 10:45 AM  

Michael Page 9:53 am. I believe the clue for GAUNTLET (Challenge, symbolically) is referring to a glove (GAUNTLET) as the symbol being used to challenge someone to fight.

Based on my experience, this was not a basic puzzle, which one might abase. What a (bas) relief to finish this great puzzle and then read Rex’s positive and witty write up.

chance2travel 10:50 AM  

Easy for me as well. And I loved the feeling of seeing around the misdirects. No complaints!

Richard 10:52 AM  

@Frantic Sloth

If you want a tear jerker from Nanci Griffith, you must listen to "Tecunsah Valley", a song written by the great Townes Van Zandt, who also wrote "Pancho and Lefty." She also sang with John Prine, who you mention, and who is greatly missed, so listen to them as well.

RooMonster 10:52 AM  

Hey All !
Duuun Dun
Duuun Dun
Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun Dedoo Doo!
(For @M&A, as the "Jaws" are everywhere!)

Tough puz for me. Didn't notice the BASEs³ until Rex pointed them out. That's strange. That I didn't notice them. Isn't that verboten? Or is it a feature? And a BASE crosses a BASES. Don't know if I STANs that. Gives me a TANG PANG. Almost sounds like a sequel movie, AIRFAN BASES TWO.

I see THE MORE YOU KNOW, and hear the Chime that goes with it. MIRACLE WORKER under MUSICAL THEATER. @Nancy should like that.

Inspired clue for CHESS. Like the - Utter Hell, say - clue from the other day. Like me some cool clues like that. Not terrible fill, but nothing to DOTE ON.

Since I've got nothing real to say, and am just rambling, I'm gonna SOAR away.

Two F's

A 10:53 AM  

Rex’s best reviews always have cat pics. Must be something there.

Anyone else want firefighter for the Y member?

@Section 17, I was thinking the same thing: BASE TWO = 2 BASES. I’m calling it a feature, not a flaw.

BELLED is a flaw, but it’s a lonely one.

Took some real wriggling, but managed to finish fair and square. Early writeovers at cHArt/mInt before PHASE/LIME. Held my breath while checking Rex's grid for the conertINA/BASRA cross. "Please, please don't be an O.....Yes! Did it!"

Dutch composer and conductor Jan Koetsier was born August 14, 1911. He had a fondness for brass instruments, demonstrated here in his ConcertINO Piccolo.

PS. There’s a special story about the first player listed, Ryan Anthony.

Chimpo 10:55 AM  

Puzzle of the year for me. So good.

Unknown 11:01 AM  

Loved the puzzle. I’m just getting to be able to solve Saturdays! Can someone please explain how SAYING is the answer for SAW?

jae 11:04 AM  

Easy. Quite a bit easier than yesterday’s. Solid and smooth with more than a hint of sparkle, liked it a bunch!

I did try norse before INUIT.

We got flooded out last fall (hi @Barbara) and spent 3 months in a hotel curtesy of our insurance carrier while they put our condo back together. During that period I rewatched “Community”. It was even more delightful the second time around thanks in no small part to Danny Glover and Danny Pudi as Troy and Abed.

pabloinnh 11:04 AM  

@People who like this sort of thing--looks like the Saturday Stumper is back. Maybe that's been true for a while and I missed it. Anyway, today's was a fun challenge and a nice step up from the "Saturday Themeless" puzzles they'd been running.

mathgent 11:17 AM  

When I came here I was wondering what people would not like about it. I thought that it was perfect. Crunchy, sparkly, smartly clued, single-digit threes, absolutely no junk (MAKO came the closest).

Three BASES? I didn't even notice. @Lobster11 (8:11) explains why it isn't a flaw. On Jeff Chen, Nam Jin Yoon says that he is proud of hitting a triple.

Nancy (9:21). Phil Simms is certainly one of the greats. In winning Super Bowl XXI, he completed 22 of 25, a record.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Serious question epistemologically speaking not football speaking—- was not Brett Favre a great QB who played for the Jets well@voter Boomer?

As for Y.A.Tittle. That was a man! In his mid 30’s he was traded to the Giants because the Ninets were through with him. Thought he was washed up. So did most teams. All Yelerton Abraham did was lead the Giants to three straight NFL Championship games. And YA was the reason why. He was MVP of the league in ‘63. The year before he tied the league record by throwing 7 TD passes in a game.
But for many it’s the picture of a 38 year old YA kneeling in pain, bloodied, sans helmet thanks to a body slam by (maybe John) Baker of the Steelers. Ther a photo by Morris Berman that captures the heroic moment beautifully.
I never met Y.A.but I know his daughter Diane, a poet and concert harpist.
Yeah, good genes in that family, she wrote at least one wonderful book about her father—Giants and Heroes.
I know, too long didn’t read…. And I didn’t even get into his time with the Million Dollar Backfield.

Anyone else think it’s rich that Rex claims his wrong answer is darn good? Man he’s got a high opinion of himself.

kitshef 11:27 AM  

@jae 11:04 I know you know this and I'm willing to accept spellcheck as the culprit, but Donald Glover, not Danny Glover, played Troy. Though Danny would have been interesting ...

jberg 11:32 AM  

I outsmarted myself on this one -- CLEATS seemed too obvious, so I left it blank, looking for a trick, until it was finally confirmed by the near-gimme TSELIOT (near because I first tried it as elliotT). Then the completely unkown-to-me MAKO and SIMMS. Luckily for me, Mel Ott didn't fit at 37D or I'd have gone with him. As for the Mannings, @Nancy, Eli may not be a football legend, but he's a legend in crosswords, while Peyton barely has a Place.

FWIW, I think of both AIRBASES and FANBASES as single words. Anyway it didn't bother me.

The hardest thing for me was ESTA BIEN. I couldn't get over seeing BIEN as French, so I went from c'est to tres without making any crosses work.

Despite all that, a really enjoyable puzzle.

kitshef 11:34 AM  

@mathgent 11:17. I'm really not trying to demean Phil SIMMS and this is my last football comment for the day, but I'm not sure one game, however good, makes a legend. Most rushing yards in a Super Bowl: Timmy Smith, who in his career ran for only 600 yards and had more fumbles than touchdowns.

Chip Hilton 11:37 AM  

I first encountered Nanci Griffith in the mid ‘80’s. She was the opening act for the Everly Brothers on their reunion tour and the boys got stuck in traffic. So, Nanci had to do an extra-long set. Tough position for someone who most of the audience didn’t know, but, by the end of her performance, she had us in her pocket. Too many great songs to mention, but I’ll throw in “Gulf Coast Highway”, which, with the news of her passing, is especially moving. Rest In Peace, dear one.

The puzzle. I enjoyed it, but some of the clueing threw me. CLEATS just seemed way too obvious for a Saturday, while I had all of THEMOREYOUKNOW before making the connection to “Huh!”. A day when the scattered proper nouns provided the needed footholds, ‘ceptin’ MAKO.

Sioux Falls 11:38 AM  

@unknown 11:01… saw as in “old saw” … a cliche or “saying”

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

MONEY TREES are common at wedding receptions.

Whatsername 11:48 AM  

Found this puzzle quite a GAUNTLET but also fair. One of those I could chip away at LETTER by letter before going onto the next PHASE. Mildly surprised Rex did not go on a tirade about 17A but loved the kitty pic. Pretty typical getting into the smallest possible space just to prove he can.

I always GUN for the Saturday puzzle because I learn something and THE MORE I KNOW, the better. Today, among other things, it was STANS. When I woke up this morning I didn’t even know that word existed much less that I qualify as one myself, at least when it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs.

And speaking of the NFL - a little Eli Manning story for @Nancy: Years ago, a friend was invited to a game at Arrowhead when the the Giants were in town. Unfortunately the NY fans sitting in front of them spent most of the game standing up, frequently blocking their view. But because these folks were clearly having such a wonderful time, no one in my friend’s party said anything or asked them to sit down. However at halftime, one of them turned around and introduced himself. It was none other than Archie Manning, Eli’s legendary father. The senior QB apologized but the Giants were ahead and Eli was having a great game and they just couldn’t contain their enthusiasm. From that point on, no one even cared who won the game. (The Giants did.) They were far too enthralled with the sight right in front of them and basking in the glow of the great story they had to tell when they got home.

Nancy 11:49 AM  

@mathgent (11:17) -- Oh, you're just saying that to make me feel good, because your team had the great Joe Montana and my team...didn't.

Unknown 11:50 AM  

@ Nancy TIDE has nothing to do with Trump's recommendation of ingesting bleach as a Covid cure. TIDE refers to a Facebook (or TikTok?) challenge, that got a lot of stupid teenagers very very sick. Some might say there was some Darwinism going on . . . .

I wasn't crazy about the MISOGYNY cluing, but I get why rex liked it. It's kind of nod to the hip, woke folk.

CHESS was brilliant.
SIMMS was a decent QB, but not really a hero.
@ Unknown 11:01 A SAW is an old, hackneyed SAYING.

I liked the puz, though never heard of MAKO.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

@Nancy; I had the same question about the answer for “Huh!” and then noticed that the clue has an exclamation point, not a question mark, so I interpret it as a surprised reaction to something not a request for clarification. I think a better phrase would be “well, what do you know” rather than “the more you know”.

puzzlehoarder 12:11 PM  

Isn't throwing down the GAUNTLET a challenge?

KnittyContessa 12:11 PM  

This started out difficult then it all tumbled into place quickly. I fell into all the traps - coke/cola before LIME, taffy before TAWNY, tried to fit in anything comics related before MIRACLEWORKER.

Seeing Andrea Dworkin in a puzzle was quite a surprise. I didn't think her name would be familiar to generation Y. Heck, when I was in college in the 80s most people I knew had never heard of her.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Childish Gambino is Donald Glover’s stage name.

King Arthur 12:25 PM  

@Michael Page, I think both a gantlet (thwacking someone as they walk through) and throwing down the GAUNTLET are both challenges (a challenge for the “thwackee”) but the GAUNTLET is the only one that is symbolic.

This puzzle really CHALLENGED me and I just about gave up but started getting some traction in the downs. Put it down, came back, rinse, repeat and finally was able to finish with a cheat at the end. I know this is a DNF but I don’t care because it was fun!

Frank LaPosta Visco 12:32 PM  

Mako is also very familiar to M*A*S*H fans. He was featured in several episodes as different characters with a range of emotions.

Kyle Rote 12:37 PM  

If you’re old enough, you might remember the Giant’s legendary QB Charlie Conerly. Number 42.

Nancy 12:40 PM  

Great 1st-person football story, @Whatsername. Even though I had no idea where Arrowhead was and had to look it up. Forgive me. My AFL knowledge has always taken a secondary seat to my NFL knowledge, and I apologize. I do know from previous posts that you really love the Chiefs.

That was a classy thing for Archie Manning to have done. But the Mannings have always seemed like a classy football family.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Hmmm. I'm unsure. Really good word play might have noted that the puzzle touched all the bases.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Any puzzle that mentions that ruthless, amoral slime bucket Cory Booker is off-BASE to me.

jb129 1:13 PM  

Loved Mako

What? 1:18 PM  

Maybe she just doesn’t like bad puns.

jae 1:19 PM  

@kitshef - Yes I did know that and I completely failed in proofing my comment. Thanks for the catch. ...and while I’m here I’ll recommend Donald’s “Atlanta” series. Oddly funny.

Crimson Devil 1:24 PM  

Speaking of porta potties, I once attended an outdoor Jeff Foxworthy performance, down here in South, and he opened by reciting that it sure was good to be back with “his folks”, and he was recently reminded of that when he came out early, to check sound system, and saw a fella exiting porta potty who slammed door behind him and exclaimed “Man, this place is niiice !”

fiddleneck 1:48 PM  

@ Trimble,, George Bernard Shaw is responsible for the ghoti story in his proposals for a new spelling system. Thanks for the. Finnegans Wake reference.

Crimson Devil 1:49 PM  

…and quite a placekicker to boot (sorry).

Crimson Devil 1:55 PM  

# 44 not too shabby either.

Joaquin 1:59 PM  

And speaking of football legends ...

This was said about kicker/QB Herman Sidney "Eagle" Day:

Believing "Eagle" to be the player's given name, he said, "What an odd name for a parent to give a kid."

The speaker: Yelburton Abraham Tittle Jr.

Masked and Anonymous 2:17 PM  

4 Jaws of Themelessness & a MAKO. "Jaws" music-worthy indeed, @Roo.

Definitely some GAUNTLET-like spots in this rodeo, at our home base. M&A is with @Nancy, in havin no earthly idea why {Huh!} = THEMOREYOUKNOW. Maybe they are words of surprise, I reckon?
MAKO not bein a shark anymore was also news to m&e.

All them 3 BASES were kinda confusin, since I figured they wouldn't repeat a word like BASE within one puzgrid [let alone cross em]. Wrong again, M&A breath.
Hadn't heard the THISISAMERICA tune before, either. Primo tune, tho.

OTOH, got CLEATS/CHESS [great CHESS clue, btw] & RINGO & IRK & CORY & NOH immediately. So that kept a few precious nanoseconds alive to solve all the other stuff with.


This puppy was a little light on the Scrabble-twerkin: No J, Q, V, X, Z. Does that ever bother any of U folks, that there ain't any of all those rare-ish letters around at all in a puz? Does grid smoothness trump letter variety? And another thing … think it's too soon to use the "T" word?

staff weeject picks: IAN & INA. Anagram weejects, out of only 8 wee candidates today. Would make a cool name for a pop song duo, too boot.

Thanx for coverin all the bases providin feisty fun, Nam Jin Yoon dude. Nice job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anoa Bob 2:26 PM  

I was surprised at the unusual for a themeless high black square count, 39. That's a bit high even for an early week themed puzzle. Most of them were in those four stealth bomber silhouettes. The two corner globs qualify as 12 helper/cheater squares because they do not change the word count, they just shorten the average word length which, in turn, lowers the degree of difficulty of filling the grid.

Even with the reduced number of open squares we still get a three BASE grid. Dismissing this duplication as a "trip" seems to me a little cavalier if not an outright flaunting of a fundamental crossword construction convention. And on top of that there are five (!) two for one POCs where a Down and an Across both get a one letter count boost from a single S. Each S square could be changed to a black square, the clues slightly tweaked and little of interest or value would be lost. But now there would be a virtual black square count of 44, very high for any puzzle on any day. The two for one POCs are at the ends of AIR BASE/TRAIL, MONEY TREE/NEST, NAIL/FAN BASE, NAIF/SIB and BCC/STAN.

There was some nice stuff scattered about, with a THROAT PANG THAT HURT triple stack being my favorite, but the high black square count, the BASE duplications and all those plurals of convenience dampened my enthusiasm for this one. Judging by comments so far, however, I may alone in saying that this puzzle seemed a bit off-BASE to me.

bookmark 2:35 PM  

Speaking of baseball, here is a quote from the NYT obituary today of historian Donald Kagan.

"He saw baseball as a Homeric allegory, one in which a hero -- the batter -- ventures from home and must overcome unforeseen challenges in order to return."

TTrimble 2:52 PM  

It's often attributed to Shaw, but that's a canard, apparently -- it's nowhere in his writings. The linked article interestingly comments, "An antedating of more than 80 years is certainly startling, but it actually makes sense that ghoti made its earliest appearance in the mid-nineteenth century, when English orthographic reform was gaining popularity."

-1 pg for td & yd. I'm hoping to clear both of them out by today.

Arden 2:53 PM  

Sometimes these intelligent thoughts are better left unsaid

Joe Dipinto 3:09 PM  

Missed cross-cluing opportunity: "Childish Gambino" came from a Wu TANG (26A) Clan name generator. Apparently Donald Glover has mentioned this.

Shoes with cleats.

Anders 3:15 PM  

This puzzle is definitely based.

bocamp 3:57 PM  

@TTrimble (2:52 PM) 🤞 for you :)

Very tough going for moi, today :(


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

albatross shell 4:00 PM  

I agree it is difficult to get from Huh to THE MORE YOU KNOW. I had to cheat to do it. However once there, I do think I see the connection. There is a saying THE MORE YOU KNOW the less you understand. That not understanding is the "huh". I haven't read the comments yet so someone might have mentioned this.

The other 3 long answers I got from seeing the answers in letter patterns not from the clues. But then I could see the answers were correct. The same was true for THROAT AIRBASES and others. Maybe a function of Saturday clueing. Or my inadequacies.

I noticed the high black square count and concentration oF POCs in some areas that @Anoa mentions. The guy has me trained, the sod. I am more forgiving but it is quite worthy of mention. So are the triple BASEs. But somehow I take that as an enjoyable thumbing one's nose at convention and cheer it.

fiddleneck 6:04 PM  

@TTRIMBLE—« perfectly vindicate ». Again, Thanks.

Lewis 6:08 PM  

Regarding ["Huh!"] as a clue...

When a new piece of information comes my way that opens my eyes to where I see something differently, with new understanding, or amazement, I might respond with, “I’ll be darned!”, or “Wow, the more you know…”, or even “Huh!” So, for me, that clue nailed it.

Visho 6:13 PM  

So sad about Ryan Anthony. Daughter performed with him many times.

Frantic Sloth 8:27 PM  

@Richard 1052am Thank you so much for the links! Just lovely and so sad. Yer killin me here! 😉

Anonymous 9:53 PM  

Medium??? Kicked My A$$!

Z 5:19 AM  

and Lexicos doesn’t even have a separate entry

There’s a lot of people on the interwebs claiming this gantlet isn’t gauntlet thing, but also people pointing out that it isn’t actually attested to with original sources, which is probably why the dictionaries don’t cite it as two different words.

A 1:01 PM  

@Z, I copied this from yesterday and never got back to post. It's similar to Lexico's entry with the usual extras. But this article at does provide original sources and is pretty entertaining.

gantlet (n.)
"military punishment in which offender runs between rows of men who beat him in passing," 1640s, gantlope, gantelope, from Swedish gatlopp "passageway," from Old Swedish gata "lane" (see gate (n.)) + lopp "course," related to löpa "to run" (see leap (v.)). Probably borrowed by English soldiers during Thirty Years' War.

By normal evolution the Modern English form would be *gatelope, but the current spelling (first attested 1660s, not fixed until mid-19c.) is from influence of gauntlet (n.1) "a glove," "there being some vague association with 'throwing down the gauntlet' in challenge" [Century Dictionary].

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

I made this harder than it needed to be because of the ? on the first clue across. Why is this ? there? When I went back up to this area later and saw that it was in fact CLEATS, I thought "Is that IT? Where's the cleverness?"

No matter. I started with DOD BILES and the SW.

Now guys, there are many football players whom you might call "legends." I'm sorry, but Phil SIMMS is not one of those people. Although, in terms of Giants QBs, CLEATS and all, maybe...

Count me in the "Huh!" camp trying to get from that clue to THEMOREYOUKNOW. Somebody needs to 'splain that one to me, 'cause I haven't the foggiest.

Had to wait in the NE for RINGO vs. Starr, both 5 letters and I knew little else there. After finally getting FEUD, it all came together, and I predicted with 95% certainty that OFC would include a clip of Steve Harvey doing his thing. *Buzzer sound: strike one*

The BASES repetition didn't bother me, as all three are distinctively different ideas of the word, and I'm not so hung up on the "rules" of crossword construction. This was a good, hard but gettable puzzle, with two sets of "Jaws of Themelessness." Birdie.

thefogman 12:25 PM  

Medium for a proper Saturday. I say “proper” because Saturdays have been relatively easy lately. This one is a head scratcher. It seems to me that all of the BASE words were once part of a theme that never got off the ground. The theme idea got scrapped but the leftover fill remained. So that’s not so good. Also, there is a nasty Natick at 44A and 44D. Fortunately it had a happy ending for me. It was my last entry and I guessed M to complete MAKO - MATER only because I figured the clue hinted at a relationship and the M of mother in English and mere in French must have come from the Latin MATER. Lucky for me, but not so much fun for anyone else who did not infer this or know the relatively obscure actor MAKO. It could have been great, but it only gets a C for the above reasons.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us:

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Great comments today - more entertaining than the puzzle.

Burma Shave 1:26 PM  


FIRST keep SAYING she IS TAWNY and hot,


rondo 1:38 PM  

Well, all the BASES were covered today. Didn't care for that since it led me to put in FANclubS.

TAWNY Kitaen. Yeah baby.

Tough but fair, depending what you BASE it on.

thefogman 1:56 PM  

Medium for a proper Saturday. I say “proper” because Saturdays have been relatively easy lately. This one is a head scratcher. It seems to me that all of the BASE words were once part of a theme that never got off the ground. The theme idea got scrapped but the leftover fill remained. So that’s not so good. Also, there is a nasty Natick at 44A and 44D. Fortunately it had a happy ending for me. It was my last entry and I guessed M to complete MAKO - MATER only because I figured the clue hinted at a relationship and the M of mother in English and mere in French must have come from the Latin MATER. Lucky for me, but not so much fun for anyone else who did not infer this or know the relatively obscure actor MAKO. It could have been great, but it only gets a C for the above reasons.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us:

thefogman 2:18 PM  

Medium for a proper Saturday. I say “proper” because Saturdays have been relatively easy lately. This one is a head scratcher. It seems to me that all of the BASE words were once part of a theme that never got off the ground. The theme idea got scrapped but the leftover fill remained. So that’s not so good. Also, there is a nasty Natick at 44A and 44D. Fortunately it had a happy ending for me. It was my last entry and I guessed M to complete MAKO - MATER only because I figured the clue hinted at a relationship and the M of mother in English and mere in French must have come from the Latin MATER. Lucky for me, but not so much fun for anyone else who did not infer this or know the relatively obscure actor MAKO. It could have been great, but it only gets a C for the above reasons.

Like the old video game meme: “All Your Base Are Belong To Us.”

thefogman 3:35 PM  

Medium for a proper Saturday. I say “proper” because Saturdays have been relatively easy lately. This one is a head scratcher. It seems to me that all of the BASE words were once part of a theme that never got off the ground. The theme idea got scrapped but the leftover fill remained. So that’s not so good. Also, there is a nasty Natick at 44A and 44D. Fortunately it had a happy ending for me. It was my last entry and I guessed M to complete MAKO - MATER only because I figured the clue hinted at a relationship and the M of mother in English and mere in French must have come from the Latin MATER. Lucky for me, but not so much fun for anyone else who did not infer this or know the relatively obscure actor MAKO. It could have been great, but it only gets a C for the above reasons.

Like the old video game meme: “All Your Base Are Belong To Us.”

leftcoaster 3:51 PM  

A gettable Saturday puzzle for the most part. Long acrosses and downs were helpful in uncovering some of the other fill.

Took some time to get THEMOREYOUKNOW, for “Huh!”, which isn't much of a clue. Also was a bit reluctant to cover both BASE and BASES.

A couple of errors: Had CiNDy before CYNDI, til before ERE, and MISOGeNY before MISOGYNY.

Otherwise glad to get just about all of this one.

thefogman 6:02 PM  


Diana, LIW 7:27 PM  

@Foggy - Hope you passed! (the test)

I didn't pass this x-word - needed a teeny bit of help. But, got it done in time. A few of the typical pitfalls.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 8:36 PM  

Come to think of it, my “errors”actually were “write overs”.

thefogman 9:29 PM  

I couldn’t post today for some reason. I had something good - now it’s gone…. C’est la vie!

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