Greek word for "knowledge" / SAT 2-3-24 / Sir Georg who conducted 999 Chicago Symphony concerts / Cannabis with a high level of THC / Pass on a wing and a prayer / Pucker precipitators at a pub / Korean model hitting the scene in 1999 /

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Constructor: Carolyn Davies Lynch and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy (untimed)

THEME: [What it's not, in a saying] — Two long answers with this same clue cross near the middle of the grid (more a "feature" than a theme—the puzzle is basically themeless)

"Theme" answers:
  • ROCKET SCIENCE (31A: What it's not, in a saying)
  • BRAIN SURGERY (17D: What it's not, in a saying)
Word of the Day: Sir Georg SOLTI (22A: Sir Georg who conducted 999 Chicago Symphony concerts) —
Sir Georg Solti
 KBE (/ɔːr ˈʃɒlti/ JORJ SHOL-tee, Hungarian: [ˈʃolti]; born György Stern; 21 October 1912 – 5 September 1997) was a Hungarian-British orchestral and operatic conductor, known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt, and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Born in Budapest, he studied there with Béla BartókLeó Weiner, and Ernő Dohnányi. In the 1930s, he was a répétiteur at the Hungarian State Opera and worked at the Salzburg Festival for Arturo Toscanini. His career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis' influence on Hungarian politics, and being of Jewish background, he fled the increasingly harsh Hungarian anti-Jewish laws in 1938. After conducting a season of Russian ballet in London at the Royal Opera House, he found refuge in Switzerland, where he remained during the Second World War. Prohibited from conducting there, he earned a living as a pianist. [...] In 1969, Solti became music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 22 years. He conducted many recordings and high-profile international tours with the orchestra. Solti relinquished the position in 1991 and became the orchestra's music director laureate, a position he held until his death. During his time as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's eighth music director, he also served as music director of the Orchestre de Paris from 1972 until 1975 and principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 until 1983. // Known in his early years for the intensity of his music making, Solti was widely considered to have mellowed as a conductor in later years. He recorded many works two or three times at various stages of his career, and was a prolific recording artist, making more than 250 recordings, including 45 complete opera sets. The best-known of his recordings is probably Decca's complete set of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, made between 1958 and 1965. Solti's Ring has twice been voted the greatest recording ever made, in polls for Gramophone magazine in 1999 and the BBC's Music Magazine in 2012. Solti was repeatedly honoured by the recording industry with awards throughout his career. From 1963 to 1998, he won 31 Grammy Awards as a recording artist, making him the Grammy Awards' most-awarded artist until Beyoncé surpassed his record in 2023. (wikipedia)
• • •

Short write-up today*, as things are a little ... chaotic at my house right now (more on that some other time). I normally don't love, or even like, themes getting in the way of my Friday/Saturday themeless experience, but this little [What it's not] pairing was more delightful flourish than obtrusive, half-baked thematic content (the thematic content that tends to show up late-week—when it shows up, which, mercifully, is rarely). I like that "It's not ROCKET SCIENCE" and "It's not BRAIN SURGERY" are essentially the same sentiment, phrased slightly differently. Getting one of them definitely helped me get the other. I wasn't sure what to make of START OUT SMALL. Is it also part of the mini-theme? Is "START OUT SMALL" an exhortation to someone who has been told "It's not ROCKET SCIENCE" (or "BRAIN SURGERY") immediately prior? It's like the puzzle is trying to urge someone to do some seemingly difficult task that is actually not so difficult at all if you're methodical and persistent about it. The BRAIN SURGERY / ROCKET SCIENCE intersection is off-center, which is why we have this extra 13-letter phrase cutting across the (near) middle of the grid—to preserve symmetry (the puzzle has 16 rows, which allows it to hold two long answers at its center—in regular 15x15 grids (with regular rotational symmetry), central answers have to come in odd-numbered amounts, typically 1 or 3, in order to preserve symmetry). I can't tell if START OUT SMALL is here solely for technical reasons (i.e. the puzzle needed literally *any* 13-letter answer to make the ROCKET SCIENCE / BRAIN SURGERY crossing doable), or if there's some kind of adjacent thematic content. Either way, START OUT SMALL is a fine phrase. The marquee part of this grid is clever, and it doesn't force surrounding fill into painful contortions. In fact, the grid is remarkably clean, overall. This felt more like a Friday than a Saturday. Certainly easier than yesterday's puzzle. Better to get my bright, whooshy Friday puzzle a day late than not at all.

There is one place where the fill seems a little shaky, which is also the place where the puzzle feels most Saturday-like: the SOLTI / GNOSIS crossing (22ASir Georg who conducted 999 Chicago Symphony concerts / 12D: Greek word for "knowledge"). It seems entirely plausible to me that there are solvers, even very good solvers, out there who would not know what vowel to put in that crossing. I know SOLTI well (he used to be in crosswords much more than he is nowadays, but I also own many recordings of his—if you have a classical music collection of even a moderate size, you undoubtedly have some SOLTI in there somewhere). And I know who the GNOSTICS were ... I remember reading Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels in grad school at some point. But I don't think I knew or could've spelled GNOSIS on my own. I had an inkling that's what the answer was here, but I would've spelled it with two (that is three) "S"s (GNOSSIS), which I'm realizing probably has something to do with my drawing an analogy from KNOSSOS, the ancient Cretan center of Minoan civilization associated with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Anyway, if I hadn't known SOLTI, there's a good chance I'd've guessed wrong at that cross. Maybe. Maybe not. Nothing else in the puzzle seems remotely tough. Unless you'd never heard of a KIA RIO and your cannabis knowledge was not ... high (46A: Cannabis with a high level of THC = KUSH).

I started this puzzle with with HANS (5D: Common Scandinavian man's name), which seemed right, because it ended in "S" and the cross at 18A: Lets loose also appeared to end in "S." Then I thought, "Oh, wait, what about LARS." Totally forgot about NILS (who appeared yesterday, though in Latin-nothing rather than Scandinavian-name form). IBID and LENS got me FILM, though I didn't know what kind. SOUR BEERS (2D: Pucker precipitators at a pub) broke the whole corner open and I was here in no time:

Could've been START OFF SMALL but "UT" seemed more grid-friendly than "FF" so I went with that. I then spun off in all kinds of directions, from HEMP to REAP through REGAN and NEMO (both gimmes) and all the way down and then back up again, once I figured out that the end of 17D: What it's not, in a saying wasn't URGENT ... but SURGERY:

I thought PAESANO was spelled thusly, which is maybe the fault of Bel Paese (the cheese?). It appears that PAISANO is the more common spelling in America (25D: Compatriot). PAESANO appears to also be acceptable Italian, if Pizzeria names around the country are any indication. Only other issue I had with this puzzle was what was going to follow CLOUD at 34D: Storm on the horizon, maybe (CLOUD BANK). Even with the "B" my first thought was BASE (?). But the answers in that SE corner were so easy to get that BANK appeared with very little effort. 

  • 7D: Angular movement? (CUBISM) — had the -SM and really wanted to make ORGASM work. But it wouldn't. I was happy to get CUBISM without further help from crosses. And then I find that the ORGASM is on the other side of the grid! (32D: In an intimate way, in a way => CARNALLY
  • 54A: Pass on a wing and a prayer (HAIL MARY) — had some trouble processing "Pass on" since it looks like a verb phrase, i.e. "say no to a wing and a prayer" (something about skipping Thanksgiving dinner?) or "pass along a wing and a prayer" (a more pro-Thanksgiving answer?). But it's a loooooong, usually last-second forward pass in football (or some metaphorical usage thereof).
  • 17A: Transmitter of audio programmes (BBC RADIO) — the spelling of "programmes" is the key here.
  • 9D: Ones running the world, per Beyoncé (GIRLS) —love that Beyoncé gets mentioned in a grid that also contains SOLTI, since she recently broke his lifetime record of 31 Grammy Awards! (which I just learned—see "Word of the Day," above)
  • 46D: Korean model hitting the scene in 1999 (KIA RIO) — laughing at this description of a car going out to enjoy some urban nightlife. Maybe go to an art exhibit, a party, a club. I guess I was supposed to think "model" as in human fashion model, but that literally never crossed my mind, so now I have this image of a subcompact car dancing under a disco ball with a drink in his hand, trying to see and be seen, making all the other subcompacts jealous with his moves and fresh paint job.
One final note: Jeff Chen (today’s co-constructor) has developed a new word game called Squeezy! Try it out here!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*not so short, it turns out

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bob Mills 6:00 AM  

Finished it without cheating in less than an hour, albeit I needed trial-and-error for the KIRADIO/KUSH cross. An interesting puzzle, but I found it easier than most Saturdays.

Conrad 6:10 AM  

Found it harder than @Rex did, more like Medium for me.

sven, erik and several others before NILS at 5D
gdp before MPG for the economy measure at 10A
wArm TO before TAKE TO at 19D
CARingLY before CARNALLY at 32D
idS before OKS for the licenses at 39A made me want CLimate(something) at 34D
thINGS before BEINGS at 57A

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

start out small came as an affirmation as the only toehold i could get was okra. then omen and rae.

beverly c 7:14 AM  

I made exactly that error with Gnosss and took a guess for SOLTI.

PH 7:47 AM  

TIL, from Tupac (Amaru) Shakur's wiki: "He was named after Túpac Amaru II, a descendant of the last Incan ruler, who was executed in Peru in 1781 after his failed revolt against Spanish rule."

Tough clues in the NW, but fun puz all around (congrats on the debut, Carolyn!)

SouthsideJohnny 7:54 AM  

Nice write-up by OFL this morning - thanks for explaining some of the intricacies of grid construction v.v. START OUT SLOW et c - and Jeff Chen is clearly a master chef when it comes to construction.

I’m was amused by KUSH for some reason - probably because it sounds cool and is weed related (although I had no clue whether it was descriptive or just another slang term like grass). Post-solve recon indicates that it is apparently a sub-GENRE of one of the more popular strains (Indica, I believe). Pretty cool that we have GENREs of weed now - hey, WS, take note. Might be a nice change of pace when you suffer from the occasional bout of EMO-fatigue.

A bit of a pause at TBS - isn’t pretty much every TV network a venue for reruns? Is TBS special in that regard ?

Although I despise the onslaught of (non common usage) foreign words on a daily basis, I do appreciate the fact that they straight forwardly clued GNOSIS as “Greek word for knowledge “ instead of some cutesy gimmick like “know-how, to Aristotle” - a convention that they did use for its neighbor BBC RADIO though.

JD 8:00 AM  

Really tough for me, especially in the NW corner, so DNF. Just made it harder than it was. Toehold in the SW corner at least got me started. Sophia for Gnosis but turned that around with Unicorn and a head slap.

Had a friend years ago in Northern Cal who was married to a rocket scientist, when the phrase It's Not Rocket Science was used a lot. I asked him what he and his coworkers said to make each feel stupid and he said, "We say It's Not Brain Surgery."

Great, great theme.

Lewis 8:03 AM  

On Saturday, I want resistance. I want the puzzlemaker(s) to throw obstacles in my path, to entice me onto roads to nowhere, to cause me to forage for long-sleeping knowledge in my brain.

I appreciate on Saturday a scattering of fairly crossed no-knows, but mainly I want tough figure-outs – knotty riddles – and vagueness that makes me wait for confirmation. I want that precious feeling of knowing that my brain is working on something but the light bulb hasn’t arrived yet, but also knowing it will if I take my attention elsewhere and let the brain keep working on its own.

I want a fill-in that’s earned, that’s sparked by a staccato of ahas, that I leave walking a little taller.

“Check!” on all that today. This was a beaut of a Saturday.

It was brightened by seven first-time answers in the NYT puzzle, including the how-has-this-never-appeared-before BRAIN SURGERY, and the lovely UNDYING. I loved the palindromic pair of OMEN and NEMO, and the neighboring Scandinavian NILS and backward SAAB.

Above all, I loved coursing through the Saturday experience I hope for and treasure. Congratulations, Carolyn, on your debut, and I bow to you, Jeff, not only for your skill, but for passing it on to others. Thank you both for a terrific outing!

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Great puzzle for Saturday morn. Medium solve for me, didn't get the whoosh that RP did. One of those puzzles you appreciate while you're doing it, not just after. Maybe we just needed the woman's touch!

Slow time cuz I couldn't get started on the SE. Had STARTOUTSMART as well as IDS for "licenses", and that mess cost me several minutes at the end. Once I got that corrected, SE was not tough

Look forward to more from Carolyn

John 8:25 AM

puzzlehoarder 8:49 AM  

With the exception of the NW this was like a fun Friday. Starting off of CIG the puzzle filled so easily that after solving I realized that I never read the clues for MPG, SOLTI, LESS and OMEN.
The magic ended when I tried to back fill the NW. The only things I could be sure of were MEH and TEE. I whiffed on every other clue. That M was my best shot so I finally came up with ARTFILM and was able to finish but that one section brought the solve back to average Saturday time.

It's interesting that ICEHUT is featured in today's puzzle as the cover of the art section has a story about an ice hut art installation in Minneapolis that had to be closed due to global warming.

yd -0

Nancy 9:00 AM  

For a puzzle that's essentially themeless, this has one of the great themes of all time: ROCKET SCIENCE crossing BRAIN SURGERY -- both clued as "What it's not, in a saying." Normally I'm not wild about super-vague clues, but this one works splendidly here.

And the cluing is delicious: SHYNESS; ASCENT; CUBISM; TUMBLE; TSA. Delicious answers too: BS METER; CARNALLY; HAIL MARY.

And I see only one name: WAYANS. And only one stupid car -- at least that's what I think it is: KIA RIO. Wow! Why can't everyone do that.

My only nit: MEH as the answer to "whatevs". I would never say "whatevs" for MEH. But then I would never say "whatevs" for anything.

A lovely puzzle that I found highly enjoyable.

Trina 9:03 AM  

One of my best times ever, just over 30 minutes.

Some trouble in the SE corner - didn’t know KUSH, had pat on rather than DAB ON and while I knew it was KIA was unfamiliar with the model.

Fortunately very familiar with SOLTI and deduced GNOSTIC from “agnostic”.

Enjoyable (maybe mostly because I wooshed through it unlike most saturdays!

Epicurus 9:06 AM  

My father worked in aerospace for many years, and did some work on the lunar MODULE. After he retired, he always entered his occupation as "rocket scientist." It made the junk mail more fun....

burtonkd 9:07 AM  

I felt clouds on the horizon starting out, but the bottoms up approach got the reverse woosh, an updraft?

The rare day when I wholeheartedly agree and feel the same as RP and Lewis.

SOLTI was the first rock solid entry, wheelhouse I guess.

Love the clue for ROOMIE, great misdirect.

I thought something looked off with the shape of the puzzle, counted the across squares (#12 + 3 blacks) and moved on. This is why RP gets the big bucks, or at least asks for them:)

RP's description of the HAILMARY had me in stitches - such a non-idiomatic description of football, although that's what you should use to describe an idiom to the non-faithful to the football SECT.

DrBB 9:15 AM  

This one felt tougher to me than it turned out to be when I looked at the time clock at the finish. Worst was getting into the SE. Big blockers were 39A--I had IDS for "Licenses, perhaps" and 46A was a complete zero. It's probably been 40 yrs since I had reason to know anything about different strains of cannabis and I knew it was bound to be something completely unparsable. So CLI------- and ELD------- gave me nothing to rappel down into the rest of that space, which was all stalagmites made of maybes. Finally decided IDS was the problem, switched "licenses" from noun to verb in my head, and that got me OKS, which got me ELKSLODGE--never woulda thought of that one--and down to the end I went.

Just the right degree of "Must... not... Google...." strain throughout and lovely fill when it came clear. One of the best Saturdays in a long while for me.

Gary Jugert 9:19 AM  

Solid puzzle. Fought it all the way. I'm not smart enough to do them all. I like those two long center crosses. I am surprised 🦖 calls it a theme, but he's right.

Thanks to @No Parking and @Visho for being Yin & Yang yesterday. I did some research and it turns out there's plenty of room left before the internet is full. So more uniclues on the way. I like writing them, but if you don't like them, I understand you can use your thumb and scroll right past without reading them. Isn't the 21st century great so far? 🦖 doesn't put them on the final exam anyway.



1 Magical beast who leaves the seat up.
2 Fix your face.
3 "Shoulda gone for the field goal."
4 Politicians with bad ideas, and vampires.
5 Setting for a movie about cowboys eating pudding.
6 Gets 'em between the sheets.
7 Elementary school artists.
8 Why shes skinny and soo happy.
9 Fear of knowing too much at the agora.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: The closet in the back with the computer where you watch the sexual harassment video. NEW HIRE OAST.


RooMonster 9:21 AM  

Hey All !
Agreed about easier than YesterPuz. Don't get me wrong, it was still sticky in spots. SE had CLOUDysky, until I forced ELKSLODGE there, and erased the -ysky part. Figured it had to be DABON, so put that in, thereby letting me see CLOUDBANK, and finished that corner.

Had stet for IBID in NW corner. Finally erased that, had the OT ending of 3D, put in COME IN HOT, and managed to get everything forward from there.

Was wondering why there was an extra column in puz. It was to get the "Not" clues to cross, since the Down is a 12, you needed the extra column, otherwise, there would have to be two 12's placed symmetrical (i.e. close together {one row apart}), and come up with some other "Not" to fit. So, the extra column here is acceptable. (Sometimes puzs have an extra row/column for no discernable reason.)

Like how Jeff Chen (and in this case, a partner) comes up with misdirection clues that are clever, rather than undecipherable. Ala, the KIA RIO one.

Groundhog Phil did Not see his shadow YesterGroundhog Day! Early Spring! Hey, don't knock the Prognosticator of Prognosticators! 😁

Happy Saturday.

One F (on an added column puz. Ya gotta throw in a couple more!)

Dr. R 9:21 AM  

I happened to attend a few minutes of an anti-vaccination “scientific conference” that was happening across the hotel hall from where I was at a different conference. A guy gets up to talk about all of the “evidence” against vaccines. His first line was “in fact, I -am- a rocket scientist” (I think he worked at NASA).

Of course, Shockley was a physicist before he headed off into eugenics too.

DrSparks 9:30 AM  

Thanks for the link to Jeff Chen's creation, Squeezy. I bet NYT buys it soon.


Doorboy 9:32 AM  

I started out slow on this one with only a couple gimmies in the first several across rows. Then I got to the crossing of the two identical clues “what it is not”. I had the K in there from OKRA and was able to figure out ROCKETSCIENCE which logically prompted BRAINSURGERY with barely a pause. I will often mix my metaphors (so to speak) on purpose and say something easy isn’t rocket surgery.
After the two giant crosses, I figured the rest would be easy, but that was not to be. I didn’t realize they wanted the NFL Panthers. I assumed it was some obscure college team name, and had _ _ _ ARENA for where the team plays. UW Milwaukee are the Panthers but they don’t play at UWM Arena. I had the C from UNICORN and thought Car Arena, which was obviously wrong. After moving around a little more I came back to it and CAROLINA became apparent.
SaLTI at first, IDS instead of OKS, CODA briefly before IBID, GDP before MPG.
A Hail Mary in football is the prayer you say when you fling the ball into the end zone hoping a player on your team catches it for the winning touchdown.

Kevin 9:34 AM  

I came here just to see Rex highlight one of the best lines from the Simpsons ever! In Season 3's Treehouse of Horrors, Monty Burns is working on the brain of a Frankenstein's Monster and barks at his assistant, "Damn it, Smithers! This isn't rocket science, it's brain surgery..." I laugh ever single time!

Alas! Not a single mention in the write up!

Rex needs to turn in his Simpsons fan card!

Nancy 9:34 AM  

Someone on the Wordplay Blog mentioned this skit, which is as apropos to this puzzle as a skit can possibly be. I went to YouTube and found it and it's hilarious, so I'm posting it here with the strong recommendation that you all take a look for yourselves.

pabloinnh 9:43 AM  

SOLTI I knew because he's the only Georg I know, so there was that. Also ran into GNOSIS during some philosophy course many years ago, so it was nice to dredge that one up.

Wanted HASH before KUSH. At least I got the SH right, which proved helpful.

Today's nit is ICEHUT. We lived on a small lake for years which used to have a lot of ice fisherman every winter and I never heard the term ICEHUT. Ice house, shanty, fishing shanty, ice shanty,yes, but not ICEHUT. This may be regional, I'm sure. On a side note, the icer fishing population used to be large around Christmas time but this year no one was there until after the ew year, not enough ice. That Chinese climate hoax thing extends all the way to NH.

Thought this was a Saturday that really knows how to Saturday. Nicely done, CDL and JC. Certainly a Damned Lovely Joint Collaboration. Congrats on the debut and thanks for all the fun.

Son Volt 10:05 AM  

Cool puzzle - loved the intersecting twins. @Nancy 9:00a and I are on the same wavelength today - her take was nearly identical to mine. I think SHYNESS really shines here. HAIL MARY, ONEIDA, ELKS LODGE etc are fantastic.

Once the cluing voice fell - this trended on the easier side of late week difficulty. I definitely struggled more with Steve Mossberg’s Stumper today.

Highly enjoyable Saturday morning solve.


Anonymous 10:10 AM  

GNOSTIC is not in the grid

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Very difficult for me. SOLTI/GNOSIS and KIARIOS/KUSH got me stuck, and BAAS, right in the middle, was slow in coming and kept the center from coming together for a while. It also seemed like it was deliberately constructed with a lot of alternative right-answers which got me stuck. Had to do a LOT of erasing.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

"Fairly crossed no-knows" vs. "tough figure-outs". Thank you, Lewis, for capturing in a nutshell the big difference between a really wonderful puzzle and a much less wonderful one. It's all about what the solver's BRAIN is required to do -- or conversely, what the solver's BRAIN has no opportunity at all to do. And you make the excitement of the former palpable. I wish every constructor would study this instructive 2nd paragraph of yours today.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  


Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Thanks for this, very funny!

gfrpeace 10:52 AM  

I know that a 4-letter crosswords vegetable is an OKRA. No problem there. But... I can think of many vegetables, and they can all be baked, fried or roasted. Corn, peas, kale, leek; beet, bean if you want to roast just one. The stupid striving clue.

Megafrim 10:56 AM  

I would guess that most of the solvers here would find the SOLTI answer more of a gimme than the Beyonce GIRLS.

kitshef 10:58 AM  

Hand of for getting SOLTI thanks to earlier crossword appearances.

GeekS before neRds before GIRLS ruling the world. Whoever it is, they do not appear to be doing a very good job.

Briefly wondered if sceNTS might be evidence in a criminal case. "That's the man, officer; I'd recognize that aroma of toasted sesame with a hint of bergamot anywhere."

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

+1 thanks for the new game

Newboy 11:24 AM  

Wonderful to start the weekend with a double dose of Jeff and welcome to his PAISANO Carolyn. Found the link to Squeezy in yesterday’s xword links email, and I second OFL in recommending it to commentariat; kinda a blend of Connections with Crossword with a more prescriptive than Spelling Bee vibe. Obviously I liked the first two a bunch.

And today ‘s grid deserved all the praise heaped on it by @Lewis & @Nancy, both of whom I look up to with awed admiration for the consistency of their contributions to Rexblog. CUBISM when it finally clicked made my day & it’s only 6:45 on the other coast. From here there can only be ASCENT.

GILL I. 11:26 AM  

"Marquee answers"....Joy in being able to figure them out. ROCKET SCIENCE, you were my first.
Then, the dance music began to fade. I needed a CIG and a little of Peet's coffee (Hi @Rex!).
I slowly inched over to the beginning of the East fiasco. Instead of UNICORN being a symbol of purity and grace, without hesitation, I wrote in ONE ROSE. But guess what? was CAROLINA with its C that changed my mind. Another mistake is writing in GNP at 10A instead of MPG with a cheat on the never heard of GNOSIS . I moved on to the interesting center.
ROCKET SCIENCE START OUT SMALL meeting up with BRAIN SURGERY. And all because of OKRA. I hate that stuff. No matter what you do to it, I hate it. Not today. Your KR gave me the stars of the show..... I'll thank you later..
I began to sweat the small stuff. BRAIN did not function at GNOSIS, KUSH(whaaaaat?) TBS and the KIA RIO. Oh, then I go back upstair to finish because I still could not get LARS out of my head. Call a friend. It's NILS. Thank you. You alone gave me the answers I needed.
The puzzle made me work very hard. Very hard that was most enjoyable. I'd like to thank COME IN HOT, OKRA, PAISANO, BS METER and ONEIDA for giving me the letters I needed to finish. I also want to thank Google for its contribution as well.
Well done, Carolyn and Jeff.

Carola 11:36 AM  

Challenging for me - both the NW and SE were battlegrounds where I wasn't sure I could prevail. But a combination of TRIAL RUNS of possible answers, lots of erasing, and eventual sparks of comprehension got me though it. And it was enjoyable all the way. Such great clues, and terrific answers, and the wit of the central crossing...Plenty of those rewarding moments when you finally "get it.". Maybe crosswords aren't ROCKET SCIENCE or BRAIN SURGERY, but I got a kick out of the joke on me that this puzzle - for a while - might well have been.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

If you're old enough, you know that it was, and only was, the LEM - Lunar Excursion MODULE.

Tom P 11:38 AM  

I agree with Rex that this was a fun solve and a lot easier than yesterday's slog. Toughest spot for me was the KUSH/KIARIO cross because I hadn't heard of the cannabis term, and I assumed the Korean model was a woman, not a car.

johnk 11:39 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle! Easy for a Saturday, but difficult enough to make my brain work (without surgery).
More pot references than I've ever seen: KUSH, DAB, STOKES, HEMP -- plus CIG and
CLOUD BANK (sort of).

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Natick Natick Natick. Just absurd that people are expected to know this obscure nonsense

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Really enjoyed this Saturday; the tricks were pleasing rather than irritating. Bonus was to recall fond memories of seeing Solti/ CSO in my youth.

jae 12:51 PM  

Easy and easier than yesterday’s.

Erasures - sven before NILS, GNP before MPG, away before LESS
Did not know - GNOSIS, and GIRLS and UNICORN as clued.

Smooth gird with an amusing “it’s not” mini theme, liked it.

B$ 1:00 PM  

The SW corner had me flummoxed, as I had SILENCE for the longest time . . . . instead of SHYNESS.
KIARIO took me forever to figure out the joke, but when I did, I laughed.
And the long themers were clever.
Awesome Saturday.

Masked and Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Liked all the different SatPuz features:
1. Mildly but nicely themed, even if it ain't [either themer]. Way to sneak in a themed SatPuz rodeo.
2. 15x16 puzgrid.
3. Has a 21-24 on the BSMETER, so to speak.
4. Subtle second HEMP/KUSH mini-puztheme. One of em on A HI.
5. Quickly solvin the NW, then realizin that all I had to seg my ways into the rest was the first 2 letters of two 13-letter Across answers. Thanx to BAAS, for gettin M&A's solvequest re-started, after havin to COMEINCOLD.

staff weeject pick: CIG. Has one of the six clever ?-marker clues.

no-knows (with a yo, to their fans @Nancy & @Lewis]: GNOSIS/SOLTI. WAYANS. KIARIO. AHI steak.
some fave stuff: BSMETER. ROCKET & BRAIN themers. CUBISM and BAAS clues.

Thanx for gangin up on us with a themed SatPuz, Ms. Lynch darlin & Mr. Chen dude. It was UNICORNy good.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


jb129 1:35 PM  

After a frustrating week FINALLY a puzzle worth waiting for! Although I didn't know KUSH and GNOSIS, BS METER was fun.

Thanks to you both - (Gonna check out Squeezy, Jeff!)

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Yes, surprised Rex didn’t comment on that as a mini theme.

okanaganer 1:50 PM  

This was a pretty perfect Saturday. Just enough challenge, and I loved the crossing "What it's not" answers. Few names, and no stupid college abbrev.'s! Lots of stuff to like, and very little to dislike.

For "Take an unplanned trip" I didn't even hesitate to put in DETOUR but it didn't last long. And hands up for LARS before NILS, and START OFF SMALL.

And I want to join in the love for Jeff Chen's Squeezy! What a great concept for a game.

[Spelling Bee: Fri 0; my last word was a very lucky guess, as I don't recall seeing it before.]

Jim Horne 2:05 PM  

Thanks, Rex, for linking to Jeff's new game. I think he has a winner here.

mbr 2:27 PM  

@Epicurus: I once knew a truck driver who called himself a ROAD SCHOLAR.

egsforbreakfast 2:30 PM  

Nice to add Squeezy to the list: Dumpy, Frumpy, Mopey, Crazy, Spacey and Boris are the others that come immediately to mind. And .... oh yeah! Rudolph! We'll get those toys delivered somehow, Jeff Chen.

I always thought that my specialty, ROCKET SURGERY put me pretty much at the top of the heap. Nowadays they can probably do it all with AI.

Im not much into adult bears, once they've outgrown CUBISM.

As the Greeks always said about their siblings, you don't know someone CARNALLY until you GNOSIS.

Really a well-crafted puzzle. Thanks, Carolyn Davies Lynch and Jeff Chen.

mathgent 2:41 PM  

Someone wrote that we shouldn't be expected to know some of the entries. Yes. That way we learn new stuff. But you might not get a record time.

SouthsideJohnny 2:47 PM  

I stopped by and checked out Jeff’s new game (thanks Rex). It has the potential to be very evil if Jeff sets his mind to it. It could also be an interesting companion for an entire afternoon with a handful of KUSH edibles (although rumor has it that Sativa would be your strain of choice in that situation). As an added bonus, it has a theme and is actually the type of a puzzle where a theme enhances the solving experience.

Iydianblues 3:18 PM  

Why is it so difficult to parse multi-word answers lately? Yesterday, we had "sesamest", which is a place for puppets. There is a variant, "sesamestry" where puppets go to lead contemplative lives... Today we had the Koren model "Kiário". Models often have exotic names so, yeah, I can believe "Kiário" is a model's name: Next on the runway, we have the lovely "Kiário"...

ghostoflectricity 3:56 PM  

I loved BSMETER. Which is also not BRAINSURGERY, even if they share initials. Anyway, you need a good one to stay ahead of all the malarkey, to use Joe Biden's cleaned-up word, being spewed out these days.

Gary Jugert 4:19 PM  

@Iydianblues3:18 PM
They dropped the hyphens. I think they're spelled SESAM-EST (one with the most Sesam) and Ki-Ário (door unlocker singing an opera solo in Paraguay). Sometimes these weekend puzzles with their odd spellings, obsession with any language except English, and clues that do the opposite of being clues, well sometimes it's easy to smell the KUSH burning in the hovels of our constructors. It's a good job if you can get it.

Vermonter 4:29 PM  

Totally agree that ICEHUT is not a term I've heard ever used. Maybe it's a regional thing somewhere else.

bocamp 4:32 PM  

Thx Carolyn & Jeff, for your Sat. creation! 😊

Just checking in with a progress (or lack thereof) report. :)

Both the downs-only NYT and Steve Mossberg's Sat. Stumper are proving to be near impossible. Will work on them on and off for as long as it takes. Also, still working on last Thurs.'s downs-o. 🤞
Trip Payne's New Yorker cryptic was relatively easy; very cleverly clueing!

Will Shortz' NYT Misprints Crossword is in the queue.
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

pabloinnh 5:32 PM  

@Vermonter-Yep. The term I couldn't quite think of this AM is "bob house", which almost everyone uses around here.

jberg 7:12 PM  

Did I finish? I'm not sure. I think I looked up 'mUSH' since mIA RIO seemed like a plausible model name, and only turned to KUSH when that first choice didn't turn out. Then I looked it up to check, and only then realize that it hd originally referred to Afghanistan. SOLTI was a gimme, though. I guess the crossing long entries were worth the compromise; ideally, 36-A should also have been "what it's not" but that would really be asking the impossible.

A few years ago (well, OK, 10 or 12) I was at a conference and heard someone from NASA give a presentation. At one point, describing an easy solution to some problem, he said "it's not ROCKET SCIENCE..." then paused, and added, "well, actually it is, but it's pretty simple all the same."

I agree, they are not ICE HUTs but shanties. The NYT story does call them huts, but that's just NYC ignorance. The story is about something called the ArtShanty Project (which had to end early because the lake thawed).

@Pablo, when I was growing up an ice house was a building on shore where they stored blocks of ice cut out of the lake so they could be delivered to people's iceboxes during the warm weather. One year we lived in a cottage that had and icebox, so I experienced them firsthand. But they were on their way out, so the term "ice house" may have been repurposed.

I had been wondering why BAAS was a cry of terror, until I finally took a closer look at the clue. Very nice.

dgd 7:16 PM  

Lewis is so good at catching “palindromic pairs” as he calls them. I usually miss them, like NEMO and OMEN.

dgd 7:32 PM  

Gary Jugert
Contrary to yesterday’s complaints, I enjoy your uniclues
The ones today were particularly good!
Especially politicians with bad ideas = undying beings.
Yes, they will always be with us.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Anonymous 12:32 PM

FWIW almost everyone commenting liked the puzzle.
It’s a Saturday. They are supposed to be hard. Not knowing something doesn’t mean it’s a natick. Read Rex’s definition. It’s his word after all.
The only cross that comes close is GNOSIS. and SOLTI but Solti was much more famous than NC Wyeth.

Peter O’Riordan 8:01 PM  


Anonymous 8:06 PM  

ICE House.
My Dad grew up near a city line but in a rural area. Not far from him was a series of ponds, several of which had ice houses on the edge of them exactly as you described. They were definitely in operation in the 1920’s and early ‘30’s.
When I was a child, they were long gone.
Now, even the ponds are filled in, replaced by suburban sprawl.

Newboy 11:27 AM  

Rex is being too kind when he says “ it played slow.” Just an awful slog for me & wife tossed it after 60%, closing the MacBook with a sigh. Finished, but MEH.

Don’t often look at the 21x21 grids on Sunday, and now I remember why.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Made my afternoon!!

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

It was ten below there just a few weeks ago—wacky weather indeed!!

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Absolute nightmare in the southeast. Total natick with the Korean model and KUSH. Who the heck ever heard of this obscure nonsense? No way whatever get the K. The clues for SHYNESS and DIET were too too cutesy -- as usual these days.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Loved it. But then again I have TAKEnTO SOURBEER so your mileage (MPGs) may vary.

Waxy in Montreal 4:51 PM  

Theme? "Damn it, Smithers! This isn't ROCKETSCIENCE, it's BRAINSURGERY...".

Have to love any Xword with IBID and EMBEDS crossing. Writeovers: GNP before MPG, CLOUDYDAY before CLOUDBANK, EARN before REAP - otherwise, pretty straightforward for a Saturday though I wanted 19A to STARTOUT BETA for far too long.

Interesting that 4 of the 6 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy could have been the answer at 43D: ONEIDA, Seneca, Mohawk, Cayuga.

And for most of us in syndiland, don't forget to TOY with your timepieces tonight.

rondo 5:14 PM  

Entry to the SE difficult since at first my Licenses were idS. For Koreran models, nothing Hyundai would fit and I've seen about a zillion KIA RIOs on the road, so easy there. Gotta keep up with your dispensary terms to get the best stuff. It isn't ROCKET SURGERY. Noticed TBS BSMETER. STAG TAGS in the corners.
Wordle bogey.

spacecraft 6:54 PM  

Hand up for CLOUDysky. Inkfest there. It fit so nicely...

Medical background helped with [dia]GNOSIS. Surprised more people didn't pick up on that.

True to its "theme," this puzzle was neither ROCKETSCIENCE nor BRAINSURGERY. Should've been switched with yesterday's. Easy-medium. Birdie.

Wordle bogey.

Burma Shave 8:23 PM  




Diana, LIW 8:39 PM  

My licenses were IDs too, at first. Things do change!

Diana, LIW

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