1856 antislavery novel / FRI 4-8-11 / Thriller author Follet / English Midlands city home largest covered market / Berlin Wall started as one 1961

Friday, April 8, 2011

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: COLD / WARKENNEDY (7D: 1961 leader) and the SOVIETS (34D: Adversaries of 7-Down) were opposing sides in the conflict, which has something to do with 1961 (the date formed by the black squares in the grid) ... not sure why 1961 is important here; it's the year the Berlin Wall went up (see 27D: The Berlin Wall started as one in 1961), but that was on Aug. 13 ...


Word of the Day: John Charles DALY (30A: Original "What's My Line?" host John) —

John Charles Patrick Croghan Daly (generally known by John Charles Daly or simply John Daly (Irish: Seán Searlás Ó Dálaigh; February 20, 1914 – February 24, 1991) was an American journalist, game show host and radio personality, probably best known for hosting the panel show What's My Line?. He was the vice president of ABC during the 1950s. On December 22, 1960, he became the son-in-law of Chief Justice Earl Warren, by marrying Virginia Warren. (wikipedia)
• • •

I feel like this puzzle isn't quite sure what it's commemorating. I think it's commemorating the fact that 1961 can (sort of) be portrayed as a figure with rotational symmetry in the grid. I actually didn't see the "1961" at first, though knew something had to be up, what with the insane grid architecture. Those are a pretty squatty and weird 9 and 6. Don't like KENNEDY (person) paired with (group) SOVIETS. Went looking for "Khrushchev" and couldn't find him. COLD WAR is much bigger than 1961. Berlin Wall goes up that year, but nothing else about the grid is very wally. Bay of Pigs was '61. Kennedy met with Khrushchev in '61. So ... it's a COLD WAR year for sure, but so were many other years. Seems like a look-at-me grid with a weakish theme invented to justify it. Result was a pretty decent puzzle in many respects, though there were far too many black squares and too much short stuff for my taste. To the puzzle's credit, the long Downs are remarkably smooth all around.



Preponderance of short stuff made this puzzle pretty easy to crack. Wanted NEBS (1A: Beaks) and ALAP (8A: Gain ___ on) straight off, but both looked so wrong / stupid that I took them out (?). Ended up starting by going OHM, SMILE, NEST, CCS, DULCET (12D: Sweet to the ears), COLD! Then WAR was easy, and KENNEDY and SOVIETS just needed a cross or two to become visible. Other helpful gimmes included STOWE/"DRED" (31A: 1856 antislavery novel) and KEN Follet (17A: Thriller author Follet).

Apparently, on this date in 1961, John F. KENNEDY met Helen Keller:


Bullets:
  • 11D: English Midlands city that is home to the largest outdoor covered market in Europe (LEICESTER) — somehow able to get this off the "-IC-S-"
  • 37A: Seven-time Rose Bowl winner, in brief (OSU) — THE Ohio State University. This team (particularly its coach, Jim Tressel) is in a lot of hot water right now for NCAA rules violations.
  • 33A: It's just wrong (VICE) — true enough, on a literal level, but somehow I don't think of VICEs as absolutely "wrong." SIN, yes. VICE ... people happily admit to VICEs all the time.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

83 comments:

Tobias Duncan 12:09 AM  

Seems pretty stupid to admit this in a room full of people who are far smarter than I am, but I actually googled Theun thinking "now thats just ridiculously obscure, Ive never heard of that country..."


Oh boy, I have a long way to go.

Pete 12:12 AM  

Looks like 69 in the grid to me, though maybe some re-positioning needs to be done for the full effect.
I stayed awake an entire hour and a half just to have the grid explained to me. Such is the state of my life.
When NEBS becomes NIBS as common usage around, oh, say 1470 or so, maybe NEBS is just too old? I'm all for believing that language is a growing, living thing. That's just great, neat, cool, hip, groovy, radical, phat, sick, whatever. The thing is, if it's a living thing, parts of it have got to die, that's the nature of life. Things get born, they live out their usefulness, then they die. Let them rest in peace. I'm talking to you, NEBS.

aaron 12:17 AM  

Raced through this one, even though a lot of the long clues felt... off, somehow. AT ONE'S FEET? WATER GLASS? Sure, but not anything I actually hear people say.

I didn't even see the big 1961, but I tend to miss the theme pretty often.

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

My fastest Friday ever. Maybe because I was born in 1961. This is MY puzzle.

fikink 12:20 AM  

Easiest of Fridays. I am surprised as Joe Krozel puzzles me often. Must have been on his wave as my first entry was TAKE A BACK SEAT TO, and I flew from there.

"Pitcher's catcher" was a nice clue and DISALLOWS was great fill.

I would not have seen the 9 nor the 6 if you hadn't pointed them out, @Rex.

Wouldn't have used the word "adversaries" necessarily; need something more obsessive, imo, to reflect the tenor of the "Red Scare" - but that's just me.

Joe is my goto guy when I have to print out a puzzle to take to doctor's offices, oil changes and FIL sitting.
Thanks for taking up just a little of my attention tonight, Joe, as I have to be out and about tomorrow tcb.

Jim 12:21 AM  

Fun puzzle. Which is to say, did it right, though had t for P in SPRAINED for a minute until it dawned on me. 17 minutes. Certainly a Friday best for me.

Just very few wrong guesses, which means puzzle was pretty straightforward, especially the four fifteens. Nothing too tricky here and nothing particularly comment-worthy either, at least among the clues or answers. But as for the grid--remarkable! Great job Mr krozel.

Biggest hangup came with worCESTER (my home town, though not this one), before looked again to get COLD and then LEICESTER (a somewhat seemy town just west of my home town).

Not sure why 'This, for example, with "the"' is END. It's the end of the inside of the '6' and the last down, I suppose. Does that officially make it the end? Usually I consider that either the across or down in the SE corner, which this is not. Hmm.

lit.doc 12:31 AM  

[10:30 CDT] Was able to work through this one using Check All now and then which, for me on Friday, is like the smell of napalm in the morning.

But I’m still sitting here in WTF mode in response to the grid design. Joe Krozel is reeeeally good, so I know it makes sense. Cold comfort, that.

TITAN/HEMAN, LANCASTER/LEICESTER, and CTNS/CWTS were no surprise. VALIENCE was, but hey, turns out it’s actually a word. Back after Rex posts.

“1961”. Geez. Stunt grids have gotta be really slick to warrant the contortions. Remember the recent “Ode to Joy” motif circle puzzle? Nice. But I would’ve had a better time with a conventional American grid filled with even more height-of-the-cold-war content.

@Tobias, you’re not alone. I initially imagined it was an abbreviation. THEUNESIA? THEUNISTAN? Doh.

pizzatheorem 12:38 AM  

I had a similar experience to Rex, getting my start in the OHM/THEUN/NEST/DULCET area and being proud for guessing LEICESTER correctly on only a couple crosses. The first 15 I got was NATURALDISASTERS so I worked (slowly) on getting more of the short fill in the west but found the cluing devilish in parts.

Sussed out KENNEDY and SOVIETS fairly early but was stymied for a long time by having TITAN for 48a: Atlas, e.g. I stagnated for a while with the grid around half done until DISALLOWS finally emerged yielding the corrected HEMAN.

Thought the clue for ELEVATORBUTTONS was pushing it a bit.

The puzzle was smaller because of all the black squares but the cluing felt medium-ish hard to me. Happy to have finished error-free.

Ooh! The capcha is pranas. I was just about to meditate.

chefwen 12:40 AM  

A Friday without a Google, what's not to love?

First fill was NATURAL DISASTER and I just kept rolling along and finished before I wanted to.

My favorite thing about Ohio State University OSU, is their marching band when they dot the i.

When I printed out the puzzle, I exclaimed to anyone who was interested in listening (no one was) "that's the strangest grid I have ever seen".

Liked it, thank you Mr. Krozel for making my Thursday night angst free.

Clark 12:51 AM  

I have been reading Bleak House among whose characters (and I do mean characters) is one Sir Leicester Dedlock. So that helped. I definitely missed the 1961.

syndy 12:58 AM  

Hand up for titan! had a long way round cuz I started with newcastle.finished and still couldn't tell what the grid was supposed to be but knew rex would know-but HUH?would rate this plain easy but would like a little back story. captha INGESSE it went down super easy

I skip M-W 1:08 AM  

very easy Friday, after a couple of minutes saw that strange shape was 1961, and then expected lots more from that year. Pretty bare bones, though not so much as to make me rabid. Agree that nebs is outdated, unless has meaning I'm not hep to. Tried Manchester and Lancaster before Leicester, drink glass before water glass, titan before he-man.
Ask not what your crossword can do for you. Ask what you can do for your crossword.

retired_chemist 1:15 AM  

What Rex said about the theme, I didn't see the black squares making "1961" until I came here, and even now I still don't get it. Had I known, I would have looked for Roger Maris, who hit 61 home runs in 1961.

Only a few writeovers: 5A AWW, 24A PAR (Parish), 37A USC, 48A TITAN, 52A BBLS.

VALIANCE (33D)? Really? The property of being valiant? Can one generalize this suffix interchange, so casual lovers are dalliant, those really in love are romant,etc.? I know, often it does work, cf. distance/distant, etc., and 33D is actually so defined (Free Dictionary online), but I still think it looks weird. Bah. Humbug.

The 15s were exceptionally smooth, as Rex noted. Bravo. I also thought the short fill had more good than bad. Solid job IMO. Would have been nice to see the 9s (LEICESTER, SIT AT HOME) somehow connected to 1961,but that is asking a lot.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel.

andrea 1959 michaels 2:43 AM  

When "Say Cheese!" didn't fit, I decided I was way off but wouldn't that make a super clever clue...
in the end I had to SMILE ;)

Couldn't make out the 1961 bec I was looking at the inverse white squares to make a shape!!!
I saw a two mating with a swastika...make of that what you will Dr. Rorschach.

I think this would have been my fastest Friday ever, even tho I don't keep track...It just felt like he was feeding me lines...

The longies were very smooth. There was time for Will to have changed 1Down to "Tsunami, e.g." but I'm glad he didn't.

@chefwen
"When I printed out the puzzle, I exclaimed to anyone who was interested in listening (no one was) "that's the strangest grid I have ever seen"."
That made me laugh...that's what WE are here/hear for!

jae 2:50 AM  

Yes it was pretty easy.

Yes to NIBS before NEBS, also TUN before VAT.

Yes to not seeing the 1961 grid before I got here.

Yes to Rex's take on 1961.

And yes Iliked this one. Thanks Joe!

Gil.I.Pollas 5:37 AM  

Well, one of those "Oh my gosh are we finished already?" This was a real quickie for a Fri. Enjoyed it though.
Favorite word is 12D Dulcet.
Sweet dreams every one.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

@anon at 12:18 am

*Exactly* what I came here to type...
Faster Friday ever for me. Maybe it's because I was born in 1961.

(eerie)

chipperj

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

@anon at 12:18 am

(maybe it's OUR puzzle?)

chipperj

balto 7:49 AM  

Not getting Rex's displeasure with 1961 Cold War theme. Bay Of Pigs, then Khrushchev's visit to the US (where supposedly he decided that JFK was weak), then the Berlin Wall -- the war got a lot colder that year. A totally appropriate theme.

GLR 8:10 AM  

Easy finish today, but didn't understand the "1961" until coming here.

@Rex, I think I'd call the FENCE separating east and west in the puzzle part of the theme.

Like a couple of others, I didn't care for VALIANCE. I know it's legit, but it sounds like one of those words that George W. Bush made up (to go with strategery). Could have made 33D variance and clued 38A as "Yard work during a drought?"

PanamaRed 8:16 AM  

My first Friday ever without a google. I smiled when I finally saw THEUN. Was one of the last to fall. Thanks, Joe.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

I thought, "What a bizarre grid!?!" Then I quickly got the COLD WAR and KENNEDY and SOVIETS and I thought it would be a 1961(-ish) theme, but couldn't see much evidence of one beyond a very few clues... till I got here! Now it's SOOO obvious! Super-double-duh! Okay, so it's not the most stylistically appealing "1961" one could imagine but it's a pretty nifty feat for a crossword (even if it's a bit gimmicky).

I'm sure I'm not the only one up remembers the 1961 "upside down year" cover from MAD magazine. (Maybe that's why I knew DALY at 30A without batting an eye.)

The puzzle itself had some nice stuff and I agree that overall it was a relatively easy Friday. I hit a wall at some point and asked my wife (a very occasional solver) for some help. I already knew the jumper clue at 6D was some kind of ____DRESS, and she immediately said SLEEVELESS, thereby saving me (probably) 20 minutes or so.

Interesting that so many of us didn't see the pattern in the grid.

TSG 8:30 AM  

1961 - 2011 - 50 year anniversary, cold war, etc., etc.

Rex Parker 8:44 AM  

Well, then, next year's 1962 Cold War puzzle should be very interesting... an annual tradition. How ... fun. Every year is a 50-year anniversary of something! Maybe other years will yield more than a single year-specific theme answes. FENCE!

Etc., etc.

joho 9:03 AM  

@chefwen, I said the same thing to my dog. But even recognizing the strange grid shape I didn't see the year until coming here.

I started off fast with NATURALDISASTER and flew from there. Like @andrea 1959 michaels, I don't time myself, but this had to be my speediest Friday ever.

It was really nice not to struggle on Friday for a change. Thanks, Joe!

John V 9:04 AM  

I mean, looking at the grid was initially pretty hair raising. Oh, wait, no hair left to raise. Never mind. Re: 1961, good to have a puzzle remember the year I graduated grammar school (eek).

Liked 15A(theun) which I actually got and liked 38A, which I tried to make baterymates .. of, wait, need two Ts.

For this dead tree solver, easier than yesterday by about 10 minutes, no googling. A fun way to start a Friday.

Re: capture, what heck is a sandic?

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Tobias and others. 'Theun' is what we call a doordie (said as one word)or broken up - do or die. Flowerlady9 and Golfballman

Bob Kerfuffle 9:20 AM  

I also failed to see 1961 in the grid design. When I had finished the puzzle and knew the theme, I imagined the grid might represent missile silos, or perhaps two highly abstract faces.

Started very quickly with NIBS and NATURALDISASTER. Great thing about solving on paper - NIBS became NEBS with three short pen strokes without leaving any evidence of write-over!

My take on 45 D was that it was The END because it was the last clue. I know it is fashionable to say that one feared THE END at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but as one who was 15 at the time, I don't recall paying much attention at all.

Bill 9:20 AM  

Way too easy for a Friday. OSU grad solves in under 7 min.

dk 9:25 AM  

Andrea, seeing movement (mating) in the card is a sign of intelligence.

I got the long ones first, followed by the 1961 stuff. Totally missed the image on the grid.

Off to see if THEUN building was completed in 1961.

*** (3 Stars) Great fun

Just found out Brian Seltzer lives in Mpls. woo woo

Ulrich 9:29 AM  

Yes, every year is an anniversary of something, and that's why we can have anniversary puzzles every year--yippee!! As to the cold war: Rex showed convincingly that 1961 was an exceptionally cold Cold War year, which is enough of a reason for me to justify this puzzle's design, which I admire (even if I initially tried to see an 8 in the central shape, on account of it being April 8 today, but couldn't find a 4, shifted to 69, which didn't make sense, cold-war-wise, and then settled finally on 1961, which doesn't explain, I admit, why the puzzle is published today, or on a Friday--it was easy for me, too, i.e. never tempted me to google).

jesser 9:34 AM  

Remarkable easy for a Friday! Only writeover was LanCaSTER before SMILE made me see the evil of my ways. I would never have seen the 1961 without Rex having pointed it out. You're a good rabbit, Rex!

John DALY could have been clued as arguably the most bedeviled golfer ever to hit the PGA tour. I fell asleep on the counch last night trying to stay up and watch the rerun of the first round of the Master's. It wasn't the golf that put me to sleep; it was this insane 5 a.m. workday routine. WTF, Powerball?

Archea! (I'll get one as soon as my Jughead chia pet matures) -- jesser

nanpilla 9:38 AM  

@chefwen - glad I'm not the only one who makes exclamations to no one in particular.

Very fast Friday solve, but didn't see the 1961 til I came here. Could not figure out what all that black was supposed to be - an almost done fence?

@Bob Kerfuffle - same here with just adding three strokes - able to keep up my reputation for being neat!

Had just finished watching The Kennedys on TV, so this actually felt timely.

David 9:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 9:40 AM  

@ jesser - Archea (almost). Cute joke in any case....

captcha gully - booorrrrriiiing.

chefbea 9:41 AM  

Easy Friday for me also. Had to google a bit but did finish. Thought the grid was strange looking but didn't get the 1961 til I got here

David 9:42 AM  

Nice puzzle - at first appearing to be daunting but falling into place, with VALIANCE being the last entry.

Hmm, VALIANCE came to mind from the Plymouth Valiant my dad gave my older sister for her college graduation. She traded it in immediately on a Ford Mustang when that exploded on the market.

And dad learned his lesson; he gave me a Chevy Camaro for my college graduation... :) A fun first car, a convertible even!

imsdave 10:07 AM  

NIB/NEB is a classic "wait for it" answer. Got started in the NE and ripped through the puzzle from there.

@lit.doc - same guesses as you.

@BobK - good to know that you are 8 years more experienced than I am (my guess was 4).

@nanpilla - good to know that you continue to be one of the neatest people I know.

@Rex - does this puzzle set a record for blocks on a Friday?

Very clever effort here - thanks Mr. Krozel. All said, a nice
medium-challenging Thursday.

jackj 10:10 AM  

Can't imagine why a top constructor like Joe Krozel would struggle to create a "1961" puzzle when the
year 's notable events, the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis were triggered by Khrushchev's reaction to what are generally perceived as "rookie" misjudgements by President Kennedy.

1961's doings certainly aren't first on the list of my "things to remember" about a personal favorite.

Constructing the awkward "1*9*6*1" as the feature of the grid seems to be the raison d'etre for the puzzle, (yet, there is precious little mention of the year's most memorable events in the answers) and a favorite constructor disappoints with a strained Friday.

No matter, we got this wonderful quote from Acme:

"I saw a two mating with a swastika...make of that what you will Dr. Rorschach."

jesser 10:12 AM  

With apologies both to @Retired Chemist and Wikipedia, a slightly altered version of the link above:

The Archaea (/ɑrˈkiːə/ ( listen) ar-KEE-ə) are a group of single-minded crossword solvers. A single individual or species from this domain is called an archaeon (sometimes spelled "archeon"). They have no geographical nucleus. In the past they were viewed as an unusual group of humans and named archaebacteria, but the Archaea have an independent evolutionary history and show many differences in their biochemistry from other forms of life, and so they are now classified as a separate domain in the three-domain system. In this system the phylogenetically distinct branches of evolutionary descent are the Archaea, Sudokunese and Jumblists. Archaea are divided into four recognized phyla, but many more phyla may exist. Of these groups, the ACMEites and the REXites are most intensively studied; they actually construct crossword puzzles. Classification is still difficult, because the vast majority have never been studied in the laboratory and have only been detected by analysis of their nucleic acids in samples from the environment. Although archaea have, in the past, been classed with Sudokunese as prokaryotes (or Kingdom Puzzle Pagers), this classification is regarded by some as outdated.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Definitely too easy for a Friday.

And I thought the grid showed a yin-yang when I first saw it...

Anne 10:19 AM  

This was the fastest Friday ever for me. Plus no errors and no googling. I came here to find out what was wrong! So thank you, Joe Krozel, it was a delight.

retired_chemist 10:20 AM  

@ Jesser 10:12 - classic! Thanks!


captcha wadjure - to make an earnest request accompanied by a lot of cash.

JaxInL.A. 10:23 AM  

Love the charming, if fuzzy, newsreel of Helen Keller with Pres. Kennedy. On the iPad, though, the first video only displays the message "The video you have requested is unavailable." Will someone tell me what it is, please?

Thanks for explaining the shape of the grid, Rex. I found the shape interesting to look at, but could not make sense of it. All of the short words began to wear after a while. I'm pleased to finish a Friday unaided but somehow that feat is not as satisfying today.

Nebs???? Wha? I'm told that people in Pittsburgh actually use that word. "Gain A LAP on" is awkward. As Rex said, they just look wrong.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Went fast.

The long answers came quickly and I wonder if long vertical answers are easier to pick up from a cross or two than long horizontal ones. Like maybe it's an optical thing.

Liked the 1 next to loneliest because it is the loneliest number as Three Dog Night proved. They Might Be Giants fans are excused for not knowing who Three Dog Night are.

Cold next to ale makes me thirsty. Makes me wish I could be at Fenway this afternoon to see if the Red Sox will take a back seat to the Yankees as they have to the Rangers and the Indians and who knows probably would to the average junior college team the way they are playing. And I am a Red Sox fan. But perhaps this is obvious.

Masked and Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Cheater stripes! Cool.

Fun FriPuz with a mini-theme. Has its "the" upfront (15-A), where you can see it. Nebs? Short for folks from Omaha? Learn somethin' every puz.

GenJoneser 10:44 AM  

Hand up here for 1961 birth year. JFK was sworn in January 1961. It is also the birth year of our current president so perhaps 1961 is puzzle-worthy as a theme. Enjoyed the fast Friday for a change. Thanks.

Matthew G. 10:57 AM  

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this fence!"

Doesn't have the same ring to it.

Good puzzle! Actually _didn't_ set a Friday record despite a strong start -- hadn't seen NEBS or ULEA before, and wasted way too much time in the NW. Didn't notice the 1961 in the black squares. Forest, meet trees, trees, forest.

David L 11:02 AM  

The clue for 28A is blatantly wrong. I'm not alone on that, right? Right?

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

I wasn't particularly impressed by this one. The 1961 was too stylized for me to see and the theme answers were thin.
Many of the clues seemed to be trying too hard to be clever.
On the sunnier side, all of you are cracking me up today.
@ Tobias Duncan, I find your frankness about your self-confessed shortcomings endearing.
@ Pete, nice nebs rant.
@ aaron, I disagree. I think those phrases are solid.
@ jesser, Very funny (welcome back) and did you write that?

PuzzleNut 11:15 AM  

Hat's off to everyone that saw the 1961 in the grid. Even with the Rexplanation, I barely see it.
Write-overs at LanCESTER and uSc, but otherwise pretty easy for a Friday. Liked everyones comments more than the puzzle.

TimJim 11:36 AM  

Didn't see the 1961 but generally liked the puzzle. Wish there had been more to tie the theme answers together, maybe a reference to April 8 ...

JaxInL.A. 12:04 PM  

@Pete, your 69 observation made me snort. Very risqué for the NYT.  

@PuzzleNut, me too for uSc/OSU. Turns out we were underselling the Trojans, since USC has won the Rose Bowl 24 times, not a measly 7 like OSU. Of course, some of that has to do with rules changes and who played at the Rose Bowl before the BCS system, but still... 

In any case, I only watch the half-time shows, and I love when OSU dots the I, too.  

@jesser, hilarious! 

Favorite words: DULCET and DISALLOWS.  

CoffeeLvr 12:14 PM  

@TobiasDuncan, THEUN troubled me a lot too, and was the last entry I completed. I was hung up in that whole area with iMILl before SMILE as well.

@JaxinLA, gain A LAP, lose A LAP, you need to watch more autoracing!

Glad I am not the only one who confused NiBS with NEBS. All the way to the point I wondered what kind of BUTTONS were made of iLEVATOR?

I had a far easier time in the East than the West - saw Kennedy early, off KEN, EEN, and ALE. I remember SLEEVELESS DRESSes; I had one that conveniently tied at the waist when I was pregnant.

I wanted cOmmieS before SOVIETS. NATURALDISASTER was the key to opening up that side.

Yes, this was easier than the usual Friday, but what is wrong with that? We can't all be super solvers. This takes the bad taste out of my mouth from having to Google on Thursday. Since I solved Friday, maybe I will be confident enought to try Saturday. Or not.

I don't quite remember the political events of 1961, but I do remember my parents being upset and worried when there were pictures of ships on the TV. "Thirteen Days" filled in a lot of the gaps for me.

quilter1 12:25 PM  

Posting late today due to a dr. appt. Why do they tell you to come 15 minutes early, then make you wait naked for 30 minutes, then the doc has only 20 minutes. Grr.
The puzzle, right, so I print it out and think for Pete's sake! This is going to be a bear. Then I sailed right through.
No quibbles from me, everything was righteous. I remember the 60's well as a civil rights involved, soon to be hippie teen. I used to tell my students that I am older than panty hose and frozen pizza.

@jesser: that was really good. Thanks for the laugh. Ditto Acme.

captcha: shedro, a product for dogs.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

like so many others didnt see the year until i came here,theun was the last to be filled,nib b4 neb. found this puzzle straightforward with no sports figures or pop stars to make it difficult. kennedy was the first to fall. fastest easiest friday for me. makes my day. doin' a victory dance!

Stan 1:09 PM  

Agreeing with Rex's mixed review of the theme as somewhat arbitrary and simplistic (the term Cold War dates from the 40s). But then again, the rotational symmetry of 1961 limits the options for this kind of puzzle. Is there a term for the type of palindrome that reads the same upside down?

LOL at @Pete's NEBS rant and @Matthew G.'s "tear down this fence!"

Lindsay 1:09 PM  

Avoided the NiBS trap by misreading "beaks" as "breaks" and filling in NapS. Which made me livID, not RABID.

The curlicues aren't really doing it for me, but there's always tomorrow .....

retired_chemist 1:15 PM  

@ Jax - the Rose Bowl was Pac-10 vs. Big 10 (or 8's earlier) so OSUY had as many chances to win the Rose Bowl as USC. USC, of course, was my first guess also, with OSU waiting in the wings....

captcha bingeti - a VERY large Italian meal

cmohr152 1:16 PM  

Why should "What a king may be worth" be TEN?

Stan 1:23 PM  

@cmohr152: Think card games like blackjack.

kirble 2:20 PM  

Since no one else has yet to say it,

YAY for Janelle Monáe!!



(@Jax the first video is the music video for Janelle Monáe's "Cold War." Shows up fine for me.)

Howard B 2:35 PM  

I dunno, I enjoyed figuring out the theme bit by bit as I solved. Agreed it was rather easy for its day slot, but also don't mind being thrown a difficulty changeup (or fastball) every so often.

The final piece to reveal itself was the '1961' grid design, which I did not notice until after solving, but I'm also not a very visual learner; optical illusions and that sort of thing are often lost on me. Still better than a 1691 theme, though.

I can see where this one might not be so enjoyable for some, but this one was kinda fun for me. Different strokes and all that.

davko 3:09 PM  

Oh. 1961. I knew there had to be something to this strange-looking grid, but honestly couldn't see it until now. Rex hit it on the nose with his "look-at-me" comment. What's this puzzle doing here on a Friday? When the long answers are easier than the fill -- some nailed without a single cross -- you know you're not about to be tested. Pure gimmickry, and for the most part, a gimme.

Shamik 3:27 PM  

A strange looking grid led me to think this was going to be a stumper. Alas. A very disappointing, very easy Friday puzzle. Meh. Didn't see the 1961 until coming here, but didn't care once I read about it. Meh. Again.

archaeoprof 3:28 PM  

OSU has won the Rose Bowl seven times, and lost it six times.

Quirky puzzle. Fun.

R. McGeddon 3:33 PM  

Fun coming soon after the Spy vs. Spy reference.

Speaking of Mad Magazine, I remember the Jan. 1961 issue whose cover was about 1961 being an upside-down year. It mentioned that the last upside-down year had been 1881, and the next upside-down year was going to be 6009. For some reason I found that horribly depressing.

Patricia from BC 3:44 PM  

Rex...very cool vid of Kennedy and Helen Keller.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Fridays are normally tough for me. If I am lucky I can get a few words here and there and with some googling I am able to fill most of the grid.
So it is not too often that I can finish a Friday puzzle without any help in less than 45 minutes. So this must qualify as a super easy puzzle.
Got NATURAL DISASTER right off the bat and the rest went smoothly from left to right. What made it easy were the three letters words at SW and NE corners. I liked the 4 x 15 words.
But I did not see the 1961 logo until I read Rex comments.

chefwen 3:45 PM  

@Jesser - Would you be so kind and come over here to help me clean the sprayed coffee off my screen? Appreciate it.

jberg 3:49 PM  

I agree with everybody about nebs, valiance, too easy, and I didn't see the numbers - what I really wanted, after the Kennedy-Soviets symmetry, were more Cold War related items lined up opposite each other - but none at all!

I got Leicester first try because I had i--st from the crosses; but I notice no one has mentioned the large covered market. I've been there and don't recall it, but I guess it must be real.

pizzatheorem 5:03 PM  

@R. McGeddon, at least there are more digital clock upside-down years. In fact, 2112 wil1 be one!

Sparky 6:00 PM  

Happy to finish a Friday, so a gift. Looked like paisley to me. 1A N-BS and fill in later type of word. I got some in SW then 2D filled in. The rest in bits and starts with trip to market in the middle. Sprightly comments today. Very funny @Andrea and @ Jesser.

JenCT 6:07 PM  

No comment on the puzzle; love the commentary! Too funny.

Mike 6:35 PM  

Also didn't see the "1961" until coming here. Took them as opening and closing single quote marks.

Liked how this puzzle ENDed with a nod to yesterday's THEme.

mmorgan 8:29 PM  

So no one else besides R. McGeddon remembered the 1961 MAD "upside down" year cover?

Just let's wait until 6009.

Stan 9:02 PM  

Answering my own question re: palindromes that read the same upside down...

The only terms I've come up with are 'natural rotational ambigram' and 'vertical palindrome'. Canonical example: SWIMS. There's also something quite different called a 'glass-door ambigram' which would look the same in a mirror or carved into a glass door. 1881 (mentioned above by R. McGeddon) would be an example of both.

oldbizmark 9:46 PM  

easy peasy.

sanfranman59 10:05 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:03, 6:54, 0.88, 8%, Easy
Tue 10:46, 8:57, 1.20, 91%, Challenging
Wed 10:10, 11:44, 0.87, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:51, 19:05, 0.88, 31%, Easy-Medium
Fri 17:08, 26:18, 0.65, 2%, Easy (2nd fastest Friday median solve time)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:41, 0.94, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:33, 4:36, 1.21, 95%, Challenging
Wed 4:59, 5:46, 0.86, 18%, Easy
Thu 8:28, 9:12, 0.92, 44%, Medium
Fri 8:23, 12:57, 0.65, 3%, Easy (2nd fastest Friday median solve time)

Weird week. Wednesday had faster online solve times than Tuesday and today's was faster than yesterday's in the Top 100 group. I had to keep checking my calendar to confirm that it was a Friday puzzle. My time was almost 6 minutes faster than yesterday's.

Tita 1:29 AM  

Went upstairs with Friday in hand,ready for battle...but was fastest Friday ever!
Lots of clues I really liked - but my notes are elsewhere, alas.
Thanks for letting me off easy this Friday - I don't mind a gimme once in a while!

Robin 2:17 AM  

Oh, Jesser. I almost never comment here, but you did me in. Do you think there may be a separation in the lines of the Archaeon (Archaeonese?) along the line of those who are old enough to remember 1961 and those who are not?

Waxy in Montreal 1:08 PM  

Small world. Like @Jim 5 weeks back, I'm also originally from Worcester in the English Midlands so confidently & chauvinistically entered my home town for 11D. Oh, well, maybe if they clue porcelain or sauce some day...

Glad to see @Sanfranman59 above confirms this puzzle as the 2nd easiest Friday ever to solve. IMHO was really Wednesday fare at best.

Dirigonzo 5:25 PM  

I was so sure that 14a was going to be some bizarre abbreviation for purchase that I confidently wrote in the P and waited for the crosses to produce the rest, which of course they did not since it was not the Louisiana Purchase but the Louisiana Territory to which Mr. Krozel had reference. This totally pooched naturaldisaster, which I had wanted from the git-go, for a long time. Sometimes when a (relatively) easy Friday puzzle comes along I make it hard just for the heck of it.

Like @David L, I do NOT make my bed every day - or practically ever for that matter.

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